Very few fights captivate and intrigue like a high-level rematch.
Was the first fight a fluke?
Has the loser of the first fight improved enough to win this one?
Sometimes the first meeting of two combatants is close and warrants a rematch. A big upset is sometimes seen as a fluke, deserving of one. Some fighters lose to the champion, or a future champion of their division, and work their way back to an old rival.
And sometimes, these rematches completely outshine the first fight. Here we take a look at the top five rematches in UFC history.
5) Hughes Vs. Trigg 2
Matt Hughes and Frank “Twinkle Toes” Trigg first met at UFC 45 in 2003. Trigg was gunning for Hughes’ welterweight title, and on paper, it had all the makings to be a classic. While it was an entertaining bout, especially if you’re a fan of wrestling scrambles, it ended with Hughes eventually gaining the dominant position and securing a rear naked choke in the first round.
The two would rematch in 2005, in a fight that Dana White himself has called his, “favorite fight ever” on multiple occasions. In the first minute of the rematch, Trigg landed a big knee to the groin of Hughes. The referee didn’t notice and Trigg took full advantage and began landing heavy hands on the champion. Hughes went down and Trigg began working ground and pound until he transitioned to Hughes’ back and sank in a rear-naked choke. Hughes, wincing from the choke, decided it was time to show everyone why he was one of the best fighters of all time.
The renowned wrestler shook off his adversary. He then grabbed Trigg around the waist, lifted him over his shoulder, carried him across the length of the cage, and attempted to drive him through the mat with a massive slam. Hughes, now on top of Trigg, began landed enormous elbows until his opponent gave up his back. This allowed Matt Hughes to once again secure a rear-naked choke in the first round and get the finish.
4) Edgar Vs. Maynard 2 and 3
Frankie “The Answer” Edgar and Gray Maynard first met at UFC Fight Night 13 in 2009. The match saw Maynard win a unanimous decision over Edgar. Edgar would go on to win the lightweight title from BJ Penn a year later. Maynard, winning five in a row since their first fight, would get his shot at the champion at UFC 125.
The rematch for the belt would start off badly for Frankie Edgar. An overhand left from Maynard would send the champion stumbling. Maynard followed him, landing blow after blow. Edgar somehow survived a brutal beating and made to the next round. Edgar easily outstruck Maynard in the second winning the round. The next three rounds would be back and forth affairs with Maynard landing the occasional takedowns and Edgar using his speed advantage to pepper Maynard’s face with punches. The close nature of the fight would lead to the contest being scored a draw.
One of the best trilogies in MMA history would come to an end at UFC 136. The third fight began a lot like the second. Maynard landed a big uppercut on Edgar, wobbled him, and continuing to beat on him for the duration of the opening round. Edgar again showed his grit, surviving until the second, where he again used his boxing to take control of the bout. In the fourth round, Edgar would land an uppercut on the challenger. A rocked Maynard would eat multiple blows on his way to the mat. “The Answer”, hovering over his downed adversary, would land unanswered punches, forcing the referee to stop the fight.
3) Aldo Vs. Mendes 2
The top-tier featherweights first met in the main event at UFC 142. The fight saw Jose Aldo landing leg kicks and stuffing Chad “Money” Mendes’ takedowns throughout the first round. As the round was winding down, Mendes managed to get the champion around the waist from behind and began working the for the takedown. Aldo swiftly whirled around and put a knee into The Alpha Male standout’s face, knocking him unconscious, and ending the bout with one second left in the round.
The two would meet again in 2014 at UFC 179. While the original fight ended in a spectacular knockout, the second bout would be a serious fight of the year contender. “Money” was much improved since their first fight and it showed throughout the bout. The match was a wild back and forth affair. There were multiple exchanges in the pocket leading to both men being dropped and rocked in the fight. Mendes would have some success with his wrestling, only to see Aldo spring right back to his feet. After five tight rounds, we would see Jose Aldo retain his title via a unanimous decision in a brawl for the ages.
2) Lawler Vs. Macdonald 2
After suffering an upset in a close first bout, Rory Macdonald would get a second shot at “Ruthless” Robbie Lawler on one of the biggest UFC pay-per-views in history.
On a stacked card, and this time with the title on the line, the two would meet again at UFC 189. The rematch is often regarded as “the best fight of all time” by those who follow the sport. Throughout the first four rounds, both men were putting it all on the line. Each contestant was hurt multiple times by the other in the battle. Blood was flowing as the two warriors battered each other and showed a rarely seen determination in the octagon that night.
In the fifth round, Lawler came out aggressive and targeted Macdonald’s already mangled nose with jabs. Macdonald was reacting to the blows and Lawler saw his opportunity. He landed a straight left that sent the Canadian the ground. Clutching his face, he covered up as Lawler landed the finishing blows.
1) Diaz Vs. McGregor 2
Nate Diaz stepped up on 11 days notice to take on the surging Irish star at UFC 196. Very few gave Diaz a chance against Conor McGregor due to the bout happening on such short notice. Diaz, never the one to pay attention to odds or critics, weathered a tough first round to submit the exhausted McGregor in the second round.
When the second fight happened at UFC 202, the fans and media were torn on what to expect. Would McGregor slow down and not gas himself out as he did the first bout? Would Diaz shoot in immediately and try and work his superior ground game? What we got was surprising to many: was a five round war that saw both fighters dig deep en route to an entertaining decision win for McGregor.
McGregor dropped Diaz multiple times early in the fight. As the fight went on, and he slowed down a bit, we saw Diaz walk him down and land his patented high volume of strikes. Even when controlling the pace of the fight, Diaz was eating big shots from the Irishman. The bout was incredibly close and people still debate who should’ve gotten the nod. McGregor proved he could go five rounds and Diaz again showed his heart and recovery in the face of adversity.
The fight was so popular that some national media has referred to it as MMA’s version of the “Thrilla in Manilla”