The rematch is a popular staple in sports culture. It provides intrigue for fans, motivation for competitors and plays a big part in developing heated rivalries.
In Mixed Martial Arts the rematch often breeds hatred. No one likes to get beat up, especially twice by the same person.
On the eve of Chael Sonnen vs. Anderson Silva II at UFC 148, HeavyMMA.com takes a look at the all-time great rematches in UFC history and where Sonnen-Silva II ranks in the conversation.
No. 5: Georges St. Pierre vs. Matt Hughes II (UFC 65, 2006)
The experienced Hughes got the best of a young St. Pierre in their first matchup at UFC 50. Hughes won by a first-round armbar in what was just St. Pierre’s eighth pro bout. But the rematch two years later proved to have historical context.
St. Pierre’s second-round knockout of Hughes marked the changing of the guard in the welterweight division. Hughes was the dominant force in the division for nearly five years leading into this bout. St. Pierre has held the mantle since, minus one slip up against Matt Serra.
There was a trilogy fight between St. Pierre and Hughes at UFC 79. But by that point Hughes was past his prime and it was a mismatch in favor of St. Pierre, who won by second-round submission. The second bout involving these sure-fire Hall of Famers was the most accurate representation of both fighters at, or near, the top of their game.
No. 4: Frank Mir vs. Brock Lesnar II (UFC 100, 2009 year)
Don’t snicker. Don’t scoff. Don’t roll your eyes.
For all the Lesnar haters out there — and there are many – few UFC bouts matched the hype and anticipation of Lesnar-Mir II. All you need to know is this fight headlined a star-studded event that pushed top-notch fighters like St. Pierre and Dan Henderson on the undercard. UFC 100 also remains the company’s most successful pay per view to date.
Mir’s trash-talking combined with Lesnar’s anger and wanting to explode made for a great buildup to this heavyweight title fight. It also didn’t hurt that Lesnar brought in many casual fans from his WWE days.
The fight wasn’t all that great, but Lesnar got his revenge at UFC 100. He dominated Mir for two rounds and took a TKO victory.
No. 3: Chuck Liddell vs Randy Couture II (UFC 52, 2005)
Liddell had a 10-fight win streak stopped by Couture in their first bout at UFC 43. Undeterred, Liddell fought his way back to another title shot two years later against “The Natural.”
Liddell won the rematch quickly via a first-round knockout. But the significance in this rematch was the timing. The UFC needed to develop more rivalries. This one was unique because there was no hero vs. villain. Both fighters were good guys and beloved by MMA fans.
Liddell evening the series in their second fight paved the way for a great trilogy that helped carry the UFC from 2003-2006.
No. 2: Chuck Liddell vs. Tito Ortiz II (UFC 66, 2006)
The fact that Liddell was part of two historic rematches says a lot about his career. Liddell’s rivalry with Ortiz had more spice than Liddell-Couture, mainly because of the storylines.
Liddell and Ortiz were the 2006 version of Jon Jones and Rashad Evans. This rematch involved former friends who fell out of favor in their quest for UFC supremacy in the lightweight division. After Liddell won the first meeting in 2004, there was thought that these two would not fight again.
But they did two years later and the buildup and anticipation were tremendous. Liddell won via third-round knockout, which turned out to be his last title victory.
Liddell lost his next fight to Quinton “Rampage” Jackson at UFC 71, and that was the last time “The Iceman” fought for a championship. Despite a decision victory over Wanderlei Silva in 2007, Liddell’s knockout of Ortiz at UFC 66 was really his final crowning achievement to a Hall of Fame career.
No. 1: Chael Sonnen vs. Anderson Silva II (UFC 148, 2012)
This is not only the biggest fight of the year in MMA, it’s also the most anticipated rematch in UFC history.
Sonnen-Silva II is the perfect storm of rematches. You have natural hatred, an all-time great (Silva) still at the top of his game and a challenger (Sonnen) still in his prime. It also comes at just the right time, as the UFC is exiting “fringe sport” status and on its way to the mainstream arena.
You knew Sonnen would trash talk and sell the fight. But Silva? His threats to break Sonnen’s bones and teeth are just icing on the cake. Silva’s uncharacteristic tirade and anger just graduated this rematch from “great” to “epic.”
Silva said we will never look at MMA the same after this bout due to the hurt he’s going to put on Sonnen. Silva is right, regardless of the outcome, because this big-fight atmosphere could surpass anything we’ve seen prior in the UFC.
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