5 Best UFC Rivalries of All Time | Easily Explained
Rivalries in any sport will unite the most experienced fans with the most casual fans.
In this page, we'll go over the best UFC rivalries, what led up to that moment, and how it ended.
5. Anderson Silva vs Chael Sonnen
Silva is widely known as one of the greatest fighters of all time, mainly due to his unmatched dominance in 8 years.
He seemingly was untouchable for almost all of those years, and 10 steps ahead of his competition during the actual fight.
He used his lightning-fast reflexes, crisp technique, and high fight IQ to finish his opponents.
That all began to take a turn after the Demian Maia fight. In this fight, Silva would continuously taunt his opponent and disengage, despite being the better striker, leading to sharp criticism from Dana White.
White would then book a fight against the 'American Gangster' and giant trash talker, Chael Sonnen.
Sonnen was an interesting fight due to Sonnen's wrestling-heavy approach (widely thought of as the way to beat Silva), along with Sonnen's antics on the microphone.
The American Gangster would go on to not only trash talk Anderson Silva but the entire country of Brazil throughout the entire lead-up to the fight, causing Silva to detest his opponent, as well as having Brazil root against Sonnen.
Sonnen would then go on to dominate Anderson Silva for the entire fight using his wrestling, and even dropping Silva with strikes.
Silva was never able to get anything going, but was able to put on a last-minute triangle choke on Sonnen, to pull off the miraculous win.
Due to this, all of the fans and the UFC wanted to see an immediate rematch. Unfortunately, Sonnen would test positive for elevated testosterone levels after the fight and would be suspended.
Silva and Sonnen would meet once again two years later, and Silva would win decisively in round 2 via TKO.
4. Ronda Rousey vs Miesha Tate
A rivalry that spanned through two fight organizations, beginning in Strikeforce and ending in the UFC.
This rivalry is known for being the reason why women's MMA was brought to the UFC.
Rousey and Tate would begin the rivalry through social media & interviews, as Tate expressed that Rousey was a pretty face, rather than a good fighter.
Rousey would retaliate by saying she would have to take breaks while studying Tate's fight tape, due to how boring it was.
In between all of this, both fighters would take the fight in the Ultimate Fighter show. In this show, fighters become coaches and are split up into their teams of fighters.
This leads to constant exposure to one another, making tensions reach all-time high levels.
Eventually, they would go on to fight two times, and both fights were an entertaining bout. At one point in either fight, Rousey seemingly locked on an armbar, only to have Tate resist and eventually escape and follow up with strikes.
Rousey would go on to submit Tate in both fights.
3. Luke Rockhold vs Michael Bisping
Luke Rockhold fought Bisping once before, and submitted him in the second round with a guillotine choke, earning performance of the night honors.
He would then go on to fight for the title vs Chris Weidman, who had just pulled off the massive upset versus one of the greatest of all time Anderson Silva.
Rockhold would knock out Weidman through brutal ground and pound, and be widely seen as the future of the division.
When Rockhold would go on to defend his belt in the rematch, Weidman would pull out due to injury.
With 2 weeks to go until the fight, Bisping's number would be called to fight Rockhold on short notice.
Bisping would immediately begin trash-talking during the press conferences and interviews, explaining that during a training session, Bisping got the best of Rockhold.
He would further go on to say that due to this, Bisping was now the actual champion.
Rockhold would take this to heart, and detest Bisping.
Eventually, the two would meet again, and Bisping would pull off one of the biggest upsets of all time by knocking Rockhold out in the first round.
Bisping would go on to celebrate and trash talk in the cage, as well as in the post-fight press conference afterward.
This rivalry seemed like it would last forever, until shockingly the two were seen training together, and they explained that it was water under the bridge.
2. TJ Dillashaw vs Cody Garbrandt
Dillashaw and Garbrandt used to be teammates at Team Alpha Male. Dillashaw would split to another gym shortly after, following his striking coach Duane Ludwig.
However, Dillashaw would claim that he was kicked out of the gym when gym owner Urijah Faber explained that he wasn't kicked out, but he just couldn't train at both gyms.
The reason for that was that TAM was known for bringing talents of lighter weight classes to the UFC, and Dillashaw would be able to essentially 'scout out' and prepare for them.
The tension only escalated further when both fighters were coaches in the Ultimate Fighter, as it got very heated and physical at times.
Additionally, Garbrandt would claim that Dillashaw was on EPO, a performance enhancer, years before Dillashaw would pop for it.
In lighter-weight classes, it is not always common to see two fighters that have brutal knockout power, but that was certainly the case here.
Garbrandt is known for his lightning-quick boxing, and Dillashaw is known for his unorthodox movement and striking.
Dillashaw would win both fights by knockout and TKO, although that doesn't tell the entire story.
Garbrandt dropped Dillashaw at the end of the round, and would seemingly get the finish if the round hadn't ended.
Dillashaw would stumble to his corner on wobbly legs, and it would take him several minutes before he could gather his legs under him once again.
This is still a heated rivalry until this day
1. Jon Jones vs Daniel Cormier
This rivalry is the greatest one in the history of the sport, and it all started by Jones jokingly said to the Olympian, Cormier "Oh you're a wrestler, I bet I could take you down" while he met him for the first time.
DC did not take kindly to those words and would explain that Jones insulted him and threatened to take him down.
The two would finally meet face to face again when Cormier stepped in as a replacement to face Jones at UFC 178.
Famously in their staredown, Jones would bump his head against Cormier, and Cormier would push Jones back by the throat.
Jones would then throw his belt on the ground and go on to cause all-out chaos on stage in a brawl that had the back-wall poster of the stage ripped off.
The two eventually met in a different pay-per-view, as Jones had pulled out due to a torn meniscus at UFC 178.
Jones would go on to beat Cormier in a unanimous decision, however, the rivalry doesn't end there.
Jones would have off-the-cage troubles including hit-and-run convictions, failed drug tests, and a bunch of other unpleasant events.
Additionally, before the fight with Cormier, Jones was said to have an alarmingly low T/E ratio, which brought along suspicion of steroid use.
Cormier would go on to meet Jones at UFC 200 until he didn't. Jones would test positive for steroids and the fight would be called off. He would be suspended for a year.
When the two finally met again in UFC 214, Jones would win by KO, only to have his win overturned to a no contest.
Jones would test positive for steroids again and would face a 4-year suspension, that turned into 15 months if he 'snitched' to USADA.
Throughout all of this, there was back and forth on social media between the two, leading Cormier to claim that Jones has been on steroids throughout his whole career.
Cormier wanted to know how he was tested by USADA his entire life, as an Olympian and a UFC fighter, and he had never tested positive once.
Whereas Jones has tested positive multiple times, claiming that he doesn't know how it got into his system.
Lastly, Cormier was extremely turned off but Jones's 'religious act' to the fans, while being completely different backstage and outside of the public limelight.
As the years have passed, we've seen that Cormier was right in this regard.
Even years later, Cormier is retired and yet they can still rub each other's feathers the wrong way in a single tweet.