The very best Rematches in MMA History
Discussing the very best UFC rematches in sports history is no small task. With so many outstanding battles now assigned to the history books. Which were the best rematches the UFC has seen?
While there are so many epic battles inside the UFC octagon. Many of the very best have been rematches. Pitching the very best in the business against one another for a second and third time. More often than not with a chip on their shoulder and a score to settle.
So let’s run through the best rematches the UFC has seen to date. While the list is largely subjective. I think we can all agree these are a selection of the fifteen very best the sport has to offer so enjoy.
Dos Santos vs Velasquez – UFC 155
When the pair first met back in 2011, Cain Velasquez entered the fight as the hot favourite. Junior Dos Santos was a dangerous heavyweight on the rise, but Cain’s title looked solid even in the face of the charging Cigano.
But all that fell apart when at just one minute into the very first round. Junior caught can the champion with an overhand right that sent him to the canvas. Dos Santos quickly followed up putting the champion away to take the title.
Roll on one year and Cain was well prepared and hungry for revenge. And in a five-round war that would see the challenger getting the upper hand. Battering the champion from pillar to post for five rounds.
There could not have been a more comprehensive turnaround in the fortunes of the former champion. Landing a decisive victory that planted the seeds for a future trilogy fight that would be up there with the best in the sport.
Couture vs Liddell – UFC 252
These two icons of the sport first met at UFC 43, where Chuck Liddell was the hot favourite. And Randy Couture was seen by many as a lamb being led to the slaughter. Couture would go on to defeat Liddell in a massive upset, which no doubt had to the guys at Tapout scratching their heads.
But in their second time of asking at UFC 52, Liddell had prepared well for the rematch. Having prepared for the striking of Randy which in the first fight had shocked the standup specialist.
This time Chuck seemed ready, with even Couture himself saying he just had to make a few small adjustments. So while Randy tried to pressure Liddell on the feet. Chuck circled away and appeared ready for whatever Couture had in mind.
Then a few minutes into the first an eye poke on Couture temporarily stalled the fight. Before things resumed where they left off and Chuck landed a combination on the reeling Couture.
Almost charging forward Randy was staggered by a left hand. Which in turn led him on to an Iceman special right hand that put the champion on his back.
Quickly following up Chuck sealed the deal with a knockout of the year. And a new UFC light heavyweight championship to add to his collection.
Mir vs Lesnar – UFC 100
Brock Lesnar was destined to become one of the biggest stars in the UFC. But when he lost to Frank Mir at UFC 81 via a kneebar, which he felt Mir held on to for too long. The man-mountain was gunning for revenge the second time around.
And when the two came face to face at UFC 100, with Mir as the Interim and Brock as the heavyweight Champion. Lesnar arrived with a total disdain for the challenger which would show in the fight.
So as the fight got underway the two squared off, with Mir looking to use his improved striking on the feet. Against the champion who was known more for his wrestling than his standup game.
But the pair quickly tied up, with Brock securing a takedown and in the process gaining top position. From here Lesnar would land shots to the body and head of Mir, who all the while was simply unable to escape. And as a consequence suffered quite a lot of damage.
After some quick exchanges, the second round opened up as the first, with Lesnar taking Frank down against the cage. From here he managed to once again control the action, using his sheer size to neutralise Mir’s ground game.
Landing multiple unanswered punches to Frank’s face with his XXL size gloves. The referee had soon seen enough and stopped the fight. As a bruised and battered Mir staggered back to his feet on the losing end of a Brock Lesnar beatdown.
Hughes vs Trigg – UFC 52
As far as we are aware, to this day this is still the favourite fight of UFC president Dana White. The second time this pair would meet inside the octagon and one of the most entertaining fights the sport has seen.
With the welterweight champion Matt Hughes winning the first fight against Frank Trigg. The always confident challenger got his second opportunity at UFC 52 to silence the doubters and take home the title.
And in an eventful opening round looked like he may very well do just that. With an illegal groin strike which was missed by referee Mario Yamasaki. Not letting up, Trigg jumped on the injured Hughes and began pummeling as Matt tried to avoid the punches.
Switching to a rear-naked choke, it looked like Frank had it. But the durable Hughes managed to escape, pick Frank up and run across the cage to his own corner. Dumping him on his back and into a defensive position.
And as Hughes now began to reign down his own pain, Frank Trigg turned to try and avoid punishment. Giving up his back and allowing the champion to once again sink in a rear-naked choke. With just nine seconds left on the clock, in almost a mirror image of the first fight. Hughes choked out Trigg in yet another classic battle!
Hughes vs St Pierre – UFC Bad Intentions
In their first fight, the future Hall of Famer Georges St Pierre was submitted by armbar. GSP said that, before that fight, he was quite literally in awe of the champion Matt Hughes. And entering the bout was as he put it, s*it*$&g his pants.
All that changed when they met once again at UFC 65 Bad Intentions. This time the aura had been somewhat diminished. As St Pierre came to the fight ready to prove he was the best in the world at 170 lbs.
And as round one progressed, we could see that St Pierre intended to take the fight to the welterweight champion. Landing some beautiful kicks, at one point one did manage to go astray unintentionally hitting Hughes in the groin.
A second low kick to the cup had us thinking Georges may have to alter his game plan. And as the round closed, the Canadian challenger would land a beautiful Superman punch that almost had Hughes out. With the closing bell signalling, we would see a round two.
As the round opened we could see Georges jab was consistently landing. Combining it with low kicks, it looked like Hughes had no reply. Then with just over a minute left, St Pierre switched to a head kick, catching Matt flush and sending him to the canvas.
A quick follow up on the ground with some vicious elbows and the referee had seen enough. As a new UFC welterweight champion of the world was crowned and the GSP era began.
St Pierre vs Penn – UFC 94
When B.J. Penn and Georges St Pierre first met at UFC 58, USA vs Canada. St Pierre would win via a decision victory. Now with St Pierre as the welterweight champion, Penn looked to conquer the Canadian and claim his second title.
And so at UFC 94, the pair met with the 170 lb title on the line and a historic opportunity for B.J. Penn to become a simultaneous two-division champion. But the fighter from Hilo Hawaii was now moving up into St Pierre’s world. Where outside of a loss to Matt Serra he had been looking outstanding.
“I got goosebumps.”Joe Rogan UFC commentator at UFC 94
Penn looked focused and ready, as did the champion. And as the bell sounded to start the round the two would immediately clinch up. With Penn’s outstanding takedown defence vs St Pierre’s ever-improving wrestling.
St Pierre would manage to get B.J. to the ground and pile up the damage. In a war of attrition, as bit by bit, the challenge began to fade as GSP continued to push forward.
Throughout the third round, the champion would continue to dominate. Landing some vicious ground and pound, Penn looked increasingly disheartened, but still in the fight. And as the fight rolled into the fourth, it seemed apparent it was only going one way.
With more of the same, B.J. now looked battered and bruised. And as the round drew to a close, the consistent ground and pound would eventually take its toll. As the doctor took a closer look at Penn he had seen enough. Calling an end to the fight and St Pierre vs Penn legacy.
Chuck Liddell vs Tito Ortiz – UFC 66
There was a time when both of these fighters trained together. But with Chuck Liddell now being the UFC light heavyweight champion, the friendship, as they say, was over!
And in a clash of styles that would see the accomplished striker facing the wrestler in Tito Ortiz. The obvious game plan from the getgo was for Tito to try and get the fight to the ground.
But Chuck was of course well prepared and while Ortiz did manage to get the champion down. He was soon back to his feet and punishing the Hunnington beach bad boy.
This continued for the first two rounds as Chuck was clearly winning the standup war. But as round three continued you could see that Chuck was now beginning to tire, while Tito still looked to still have some pep in his step.
But it wasn’t enough, as Liddell still had the big equaliser. Landing some solid shots and sending Tito to the ground. Pouncing on the injured Ortiz, Chuck continued to land punches until the referee had seen enough. As The Iceman retained his championship, beating Tito down for a second time.
Diaz vs McGregor – UFC 202
The first fight between these two seemed initially to be somewhat of an odd choice. Nate Diaz was traditionally a lightweight who dabbled in the UFC’s welterweight division. Conor McGregor was a lightweight fighter, who also fought at featherweight where he had captured the UFC title.
Then following Rafael Dos Anjos being pulled from a lightweight title showdown. Finding an opponent a short notice created a number of problems for the UFC. But with a call out by Nate Diaz, it was agreed that the fight was agreed to take place at 170 lbs. Where Diaz would go on to shock the world, submitting McGregor via rear-naked choke.
They would meet once again at UFC 202 in another 170 lb showdown and this time McGregor would do things a little differently. Having taken stock of the result from the first encounter. This time around Mcgregor looked to take his time and use much more kicks to try and take away the base of Nate.
And all seemed to be going to plan as Conor floored Diaz on several occasions. But as the rounds progressed, Diaz as always began to claw his way back into the fight. Making it much more of an even battle throughout the 3rd and fourth rounds of the fight.
But into the 5th and McGregor seemed to get his second win. Pushing the action and once again forcing Nate onto the back foot. Landing the more significant strikes in the fight, it went to the scorecards with the featherweight champion was declared the winner.
Hughes vs Penn – UFC 63
The first time they had met back at UFC 46 Supernatural. B.J. Penns would shock the MMA world by beating the long-reigning Matt Hughes via rear-naked choke.
Now in their second fight, Baby Jay was back for more as he looked to recapture the UFC welterweight title for a second time. With his elite level BJJ vs that of Hughes All American wrestling.
The pair went toe to toe for most of the first, with the most significant event being a bad eye poke by Penn. Round two saw the grappling play out, as B.J. stuffed most of the champions takedown attempts. While landing some good strikes on the feet.
In round two, Hughes would get B.J. to the ground and use his superior strength to keep him there. Then toward the end of the round, Penn would flip the script and get Matt’s back before attempting an armbar. But with too little time on the clock, we were going to see a round three.
With the scorecards giving the first two rounds to B.J. Penn. It looked like it might be his night, but this time yet again, his cardio seemed to be failing him as it did in the GSP fight.
And so Hughes began to pick the challenger apart, as his superior conditioning began to pay dividends. So when B.J. shot for the takedown, Matt managed to secure a crucifix. Landing strikes to the unprotected head of Penn until the referee had seen enough.
Rockhold vs Bisping – UFC 199
The first fight between these two was steeped in animosity. Which all stemmed from a sparring incident in which Michael Bisping had said, apparently jokingly. That he had gotten the better of the middleweight champion.
And so Rockhold exacted his revenge submitting Bisping with a one-arm guillotine in the second round. Roll forward from their first meeting at UFC Fight Night 55 to UFC 199. As Michael Bisping takes the short notice rematch, having just defeated Anderson Silva a few months prior.
But with many believing that the champion would simply be too much for The Count, the odds heavily favoured the Rockhold. However, Bisping saw things differently, even with one eye. Entering the fight confident in his abilities and ready to claim the UFC title.
And while Luke stalked Bisping for most of the first round, it was pretty much even. Until of course at just over three minutes in, Michael countered with an overhand left, catching him on the chin and staggering the champion backwards.
Quickly following up to a downed Rockhold, Bisping landed a flurry of unanswered punches as referee John McCarthy waved the fight off. Giving us truly one of the biggest upsets in UFC history.
Silva vs Rampage Jackson – UFC 92
A one time Wanderlei Silva dominated the PRIDE fighting championships middleweight division. And during that time he would face Quinton “Rampage” Jackson on two occasions. Stopping him via TKO in the first encounter, then brutal knockout in the second.
And so when both men were once against signed with the promotion. The opportunity arose for the pair to once again face off at UFC 92 to settle an old score. With Silva having those two wins and entering the fight as the favourite.
The statistics were firmly in favour of the Brazilian who looked to continue his dominance. Making it 3 – 0 and forever assigning their rivalry to the MMA history books.
But in a tentative first round which saw both fighters feeling one another out. It was Rampage who at three minutes twenty who would land a devastating left hook that knocked Silva out cold.
Adding some additional punches while the Brazilian laid out cold on the floor. Making amends for the losses that no doubt plagued him for many years.
Cormier vs Jones – UFC 214
One of the most highly anticipated rematches in UFC history. Saw the reigning champion Daniel Cormier attempting to defend his title against former champion Jon Jones.
Jones had never lost the title and felt DC was not the true 205 lb champ. Something which no doubt got under Cormier’s skin, as he looked to silence an opponent he truly hated.
And as the fight got underway, it appeared for the most part that Jones looked to pick up where he had left off the last time they had met.
Sharp on his feet, the former champion was landing some solid strikes. While at the same time stuffing most of Cormier’s attacks. In what seemed to be a game plan that had covered all the bases.
And while the champion Cormier did have his moment. It was the sheer skill and precision of Bones Jones that looked to be taking the fight. Then at three minutes into the third, Jones landed a head kick that sent the champion reeling backwards.
Following up with a trip, he followed Cormier to the ground. Where he landed a series of unanswered blows to signal the end of the fight. And a recapturing of the UFC light heavyweight title he had never lost inside the octagon.
Shogun vs Henderson – UFC Fight Night 38
Two legends of the sport Dan Henderson and Mauricio Shogun Rua first fought at UFC 139. In a brutal back and forth fight which went the full three rounds. Rua would emerge the winner in one of the craziest slugfests seen inside the UFC octagon.
Now at UFC fight Night 38 in Brazil, Rua and Hendo looked to repeat the previous outing, albeit with Shogun hoping this time to reverse the outcome.
Henderson was coming into the fight on a three-fight losing streak, while Rua was at 1 – 2. So both men felt they had something to prove, with Shogun looking to silence his critics.
And the two kicked things off as though it was a continuation of the first fight. When toward the end of the first they exchanged with Shogun getting rocked. But with his back to the cage swinging wildly and dropping Henderson.
In the second Rua landed a huge uppercut, sending Dan crashing to the ground. But unable to do much damage the round would wind down with Shogun on top and two rounds in the bag.
And in the third, Shogun was keeping Dan at bay with his jab. Picking away while all the while Henderson appeared to be waiting to land one big shot. And at three minutes thirty, when Rua tried to clinch he did exactly just that.
Catching him flush on the break, sent him to the floor where he tried to hold on. But referee Herb Dean could see he was o longer able to defend himself and quickly stopped the fight. 2 – 0 to Henderson and the last time they would ever meet inside the octagon.
Dillashaw vs Barrao – UFC On Fox 16
In one of the biggest upsets, the sport has known. Underdog TJ Dillashaw got his shot at reigning bantamweight bad man Renan Barao. With much of the fight being a back and forth well-contested war. In the fourth round, Dillashaw landed a head kick and combination that stopped the long-reigning bantamweight champion.
Then at UFC on Fox 16, the two went at it once again. As Barao was eager to regain his title and silence the critics who believed Dillashaw simply had his number.
However, it wasn’t meant to be, as the champion T.J. Dillashaw continued where he had left off, probing and out striking the Brazilian phenom. And while Renan had his moments. As the fight progressed, it was T.J who continued to pour it on.
Then at thirty seconds into the 4th, Dillashaw landed a quick combination that sent Barao staggering against the cage. A few more shots landed and referee Herb Dean had seen enough. As T.J. once again proved to be the best fighter in the world at 135 lbs.
Cormier vs Miocic – UFC 241
The first time Daniel Cormier and Stipe Miocic met at UFC 226 it is was for the UFC heavyweight championship. A fight in which the light heavyweight champion Cormier shocked the world knocking out Stipe in the first round.
The rematch at UFC 241 would see the challenger Miocic looking to get his revenge. And reclaim his championship. From the man he felt had landed a lucky punch.
But the fight began very much the same way as the first. With DC gaining the upper hand and doing most of the damage for the first two rounds. But coming out of his corner in the third, Miocic took a different approach, landing relentless body shots on the champion.
More of the same in the 4th as Cormier looked to be feeling the effects of the constant punishment to his body. Then at four minutes into the round, yet another combination from Miocic put Cormier on the deck. Where he quickly followed up knocking out the champion.
I hope you enjoyed this run through fifteen of the best rematches in UFC history. And as the sport continues to evolve, we will no doubt continue to see more epic fights in the weeks and years to come.
As the very best MMA fighters in the world look to get a second opportunity to right the wrong. To get back a win from the opponent who had given them that L on their record. And seal their position in the annals of MMA history. Some of the most historic fights the sport has known. And moments that we all as fans will savour long into the future.