Anderson Silva is not the first guy to let an opponent get in his head and make fun promises of broken bones and backyard beatings. Here is a look back at 10 UFC rivalries that featured the same kind of fun threats, mockery, and intensity we heard from Silva and Sonnen.
Most UFC fighters try and play the political game of saying all the right complimentary things about their opponents leading up to fights. Why give your opponent added incentive to train and work harder preparing for the fight? However, there are some fighters that don’t care and are quite frank in their hatred and disgust in regards to their opponent. These bitter rivalries have turned general mundane UFC pre-fight promotional pressers into must-read and must-see material. In other words, they are a lot of fun to follow!
Anderson Silva vs. Chael Sonnen – This one has been well documented leading up to their second fight at UFC 148. It all started with Chael’s relentless verbal attacks on Anderson, his family, his heritage, and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Silva answered back by tapping Sonnen out in the fifth round of a classic fight. Chael however has denied that tap and has continued verbally assaulting Silva for the last two years. Silva lost his cool and responded for the first time recently by promising to break several of Chael’s bones as well as making a recent staredown very uncomfortable. I doubt that reality show Chael joked about after their first fight is on the horizon anytime soon.
Brock Lesnar vs. Frank Mir – When one guy dreams of actually killing his opponent, it is personal. Mir made his wishes public and was immediately reprimanded by the UFC. Lesnar on the other hand broke a door and became obsessed with beating Mir after his first loss to the former UFC champ. How big was this rivalry? It remains the biggest drawing fight in UFC history. Trilogy anyone?
Rampage Jackson vs. Rashad Evans – Unfortunately this one had a lot of hype and very little substance when it came to fight time. These two former TUF coaches developed an intense rivalry on the program that produced one of the biggest money fights in UFC history. Even after decisively losing to Evans, Jackson refused Evans’ help in training for Jon Jones. Quite frankly, he could have used it.
Nick Diaz vs. Georges St-Pierre – This is the only rivalry on the list that hasn’t resulted in a fight. I am still somewhat unclear as to why GSP and Diaz hate each other as much as they proclaim to. Yet GSP personally lobbied Dana White for a fight in which White responded that he had never seen a side of St-Pierre before this. What is fascinating to me is how much Diaz has already gotten in Georges’ head and they haven’t even fought. Diaz has impacted GSP almost identical to the same way Sonnen impacted Silva. GSP promises to take this fight to a dark place and after listening to him talk about it I have a feeling that this is going to be one ugly (in the positive sense) fight.
Josh Koscheck vs. Chris Leben – This was one of the most bitter rivalries in UFC history yet didn’t draw a dime for the company when it came to the fight. Both fighters developed an intense bitterness towards one another in The Ultimate Fighter 1 house. Tensions boiled over after Bobby Southworth and Koscheck infamously poured water over a sleeping Leben. Leben and Koscheck fought in a TUF fight that saw Leben dominated. To this day it amazes me as to why the UFC has never been able to bring this rivalry to pay per view.
Jon Jones vs. Rashad Evans – This is one of the newest rivalries in the UFC and one of the most real. How do you know it is real? Even after a decisive win, both fighters have yet to fully put their differences aside in a show of sportsmanship. Evans exposed a side of Jones that later was confirmed when Jones was arrested for DUI. This got personal when Jones accepted a fight with Evans after Evans claimed the two made a pact to never fight. Bones may have dominated the octagon battle but he has certainly lost the war of words.
Ken Shamrock vs. Tito Ortiz – Some would call this one of the greatest rivalries in UFC history. Looking back I think a lot of this came from two smart fighters who knew how to use their mouths to drum up business. The backstory here is that Ortiz disrespected one of Ken’s Lion’s Den fighters although I think Ken threw a lot of WWE into the hype machine here. It is also quite fascinating looking back that these guys fought three times, yet all three were dominated by Ortiz. How often do you see two guys rematched three times after one guy dominated both fights? It rarely happens but the UFC is glad it did because their third fight televised on Spike TV set ratings records and increased awareness about the UFC more than any other up to that point.
Tito Ortiz vs. Chuck Liddell – This rivalry resembled the Jones vs. Evans rivalry in that you had two former training partners who became opponents. The only difference here is that one fighter appeared to run scared of the other for as long as he could before suffering the inevitable beating. Liddell dominated Ortiz for the most part in two fights and was on his way to doing it for a third time before Ortiz backed out. Years later these two guys still don’t like each other as Chuck has said on many occasions that he would jump out of retirement for one more chance at punching Tito in the face.
Michael Bisping vs. Jorge Rivera – This is a rivalry that generally flies under the radar due to the lack of importance of the fight. Rivera and his team posted several videos prior to the fight mocking Bisping for quite frankly, many of the same reasons most MMA fans mock the Count. Michael wasn’t amused and was particularly angry about something Rivera and his camp said about his wife. Bisping defeated Rivera, although not without controversy after “accidentally” kneeing Rivera while he was down. What wasn’t accidental was the huge spit Bisping tossed towards Rivera’s camp after the fight was over.
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