The 411 MMA Top 10 02.18.13: Top 10 Trilogies That Should Be Completed
Hey there gentle readers, I am Alex Rella and this is the MMA Top Ten. This week we will be looking at ten trilogies that should be completed. Good trilogies aren’t seen too often and can be really exciting if done right. Some of the ones on this week’s list are tied at 1-1, but a few on list have been one sided so far. The potential trilogies are based on past fight quality, where both fighter currently are in their careers, and some of my personal opinion. They also have to be fights that can still happen, so there aren’t any listed between fighters that are currently retired. So nobody complain that Chuck Liddell vs Tito Ortiz or anything else like that isn’t listed.
• Jens Pulver vs BJ Penn- They’re in different companies and different weight classes, but both should have retired by now. The old rivals can fight one more time and hopefully end it there before they get serious brain damage.
• Alistair Overeem vs Fabricio Werdum- The first fight in Pride was good, and of course the second fight in Strikeforce was beyond awful. Werdum is finally near a title shot now, but it would be nice to see him wreck Overeem now that he’s fighting clean.
• Julie Kedzie vs Kaitlin Young- I don’t know why Kedzie hasn’t fought for Invicta FC yet, but this would be a good fight for them to make as both are tied up and usually have fun fights.
Alexis Davis recently signed with the UFC to compete in their new women’s bantamweight division. There are still plenty of good female bantamweights out there that the UFC can continue to sign and expand the division. Davis has spent the past couple years competing in Strikeforce and Invicta. Shayna Baszler is another bantamweight that deserves a chance in the octagon. Baszler spent some time in Strikeforce and EliteXC a few years ago and has since returned to national attention fighting in Invicta. The two ladies first met in FCF and Baszler won by unanimous decision in a solid fight. They met again just last month at Invicta FC 4. Davis won by rear naked choke with less than a minute left in the fight. It would pick up Fight of the Night as well. A third fight should be good in any promotion.
Frankie Edgar is down 0-2 to Benson Henderson, but I still want this fight to happen. The former WEC champion took on the UFC champion in the UFC’s return to Japan at UFC 144. Henderson took the title, but it was close enough that Edgar rightfully got his rematch at UFC 150. The rematch was another vintage Edgar fight as it went another full five rounds. It wasn’t as good of a fight as 144, but it was pretty good. This time it seemed as though it was a clear victory for Edgar, but the judges somehow gave it to Henderson. Edgar has since moved down to featherweight and Henderson has defended his title. Dana White has said Edgar will no longer be competing at lightweight, but he’s gone back on his word before.
I recently highlighted their second fight in Strikeforce’s top fights and this third fight can now happen now that both men are in the UFC. These two first fought in 2007 for the EliteXC lightweight championship. Noons won this one after the fight was stopped because of several cuts. Seeds for the rematch were planted after Noons defended his title against Yves Edwards. The Diaz brothers came to the cage to hype a rematch and Noons’ father would lunge at Nick after some trash talking. Nate threw a water bottle at his father, but fortunately things didn’t escalate past that. They would meet again three years later at Strikeforce 28. This time Diaz was the champion and it was at welterweight. Both guys were riding long winning streaks as well. Strikeforce would name this their fight of the year in 2010 as Diaz would win by unanimous decision (48-47, 49-47, 49-46). Of course for this fight to happen Diaz would have to lose his title shot against GSP and Noons would have to move back to welterweight. It wouldn’t be a main event or anything, but it would likely be another exciting fight.
Urijah Faber is at an interesting point of his career. The former WEC featherweight champion has lost his last five title fights in row. He’s still a good fighter, but he benefits by being in a very shallow bantamweight division. He may get another title shot at Dominic Cruz, but there are still plenty of money fights left for him even if he loses to him again. One thing that may help Faber out is if he were to take the Rich Franklin route and take occasional fights in the heavier featherweight division. One fight that immediately comes to mind is against the guy who took his WEC title, Mike Brown. Brown has only gone 4-3 mostly on the preliminary card since losing his title. They first met at WEC 36 in 2008. At this point Faber was the most dominant champion in the company with five straight title defenses. Brown picked up the big upset and title with a TKO victory in the first round. Brown won the rematch again at WEC 41, but this was still one of the best fights of Faber’s career. Faber broke both his hands early in the fight and still kept coming using elbow strikes and kicks as his only offense. In the fifth round he threw caution to the wind and connected with 15 strikes even with his broken hands. Brown won the rematch by unanimous decision, but Faber has commented that he wants another shot at him. A temporary move to featherweight could give him another chance.
The initial reaction is to make fun of Forrest Griffin at this point and there are even those who say Shogun is completely washed up. I actually think both guys sill have a lot of good fights left in them. I doubt either one will come close to a title shot again, but that doesn’t mean they have to retire either. Their first meeting at UFC 76 is one of my all time favorite fights. Shogun was coming over from Pride and was considered by almost everybody to be the best light heavyweight in the world. Griffin stunned everybody when he pulled off one of the all time biggest upsets with a rear naked choke in the third round. Griffin would go on to win the title and Shogun would spend the next couple years building himself back up to the top. They would meet again four years later at UFC 134. This time Shogun killed him in the first round. Griffin would have lost at this point anyway, but his wife was in labor and I can’t imagine being able to focus enough to fight while that’s going on in another country. I think a third fight would be good a slugfest at this point. The rubber match between the former champions could serve as a co-main event on a ppv or Fox card.
Right now both former UFC light heavyweight champions are at different points in their careers, but this final fight would still be a big deal. Lyoto Machida is still in title contention as he takes on Dan Henderson next week, but Shogun Rua’s top years appear to be over. They first met at UFC 104 as Machida was going for his first title defense. The fight went the distance as all three judges scored the fight 48-47. This was a very controversial decision as FightMetric showed that Rua landed twice as many shots as Machida. The rematch took place seven months later at UFC 113. Both guys came out aggressive and the fight only went one round. Machida was able to take Rua down, but he defended nicely going for a kneebar and eventually both guys were back on their feet. Then Shogun dropped Machida with a right hand and finished him with strikes to take the title. The third fight could happen fairly soon if Machida loses to Henderson, but it’s still a good fight even if it’s in a couple years.
This wasn’t in my original draft and I would have been really mad at myself if I forgot to put this one in. The first meeting happened at WEC 38 as Jamie Varner was going for his second lightweight title defense. Donald Cerrone was undefeated at this point in his career and they were having a really exciting and competitive fight until the fifth round. The fight was ended by technical decision as Cerrone kneed Varner in the temple while he was still on the ground. Varner was unable to continue as he said he had double vision. Many questioned Varner’s toughness and reputation after this fight. The much anticipated rematch would happen at WEC 51 after Varner had lost the title to Benson Henderson. This time the Cowboy would win by unanimous decision in another Fight of the Night Performance. Cerrone was recently knocked out of title contention and Varner is currently rebuilding himself in the UFC’s lightweight division. It may take Varner another win or so to be in Cerrrone’s league, but it would make for another great fight. Varner’s comments after Cerrone’s recent loss show there’s still a lot of bad blood between the two as well.
This is an unofficial trilogy of sorts, but it should still happen and it makes sense for both lightweights in the immediate future. Both fighters competed in the stacked lightweight season of TUF 5. Diaz was on Team Pulver and Maynard was on Team Penn. They met in the semifinals when Diaz won by guillotine choke in the second round. This isn’t on their official record, but the fight happened and it was on tv so it qualifies. Diaz would go on to win the season. The rematch would happen about three years later in the main event of UFC Fight Night 20. Maynard won by split decision, but some viewed this as controversial picking Diaz. I think this third fight is something that should happen in 2013. Both are former number one contenders that are still top five in the division. Maynard is out with an injury, but this is a fight I would make upon his return whether or not Diaz wins his fight with Josh Thomson. Settles who’s the better fighter and pushes the winner up near title contention.
This has potential to be one of the best all time heavyweight rivalries. Dos Santos won the first fight and the UFC heavyweight title in 64 seconds on Fox. Velasquez got his revenge in December at UFC 155 when he just completely owned Dos Santos for 25 minutes. I’m really glad the UFC held off on the third fight right away. Cain will now defend his title against Antonio Silva and Dos Santos takes on Overeem in an even more exciting fight. I’ll be shocked if either guy loses at UFC 160. I expect the trilogy to be completed in November or December.
This is a true rivalry between two very different guys that genuinely can’t stand each other. The trilogy was supposed to be completed after both fighters coached TUF season 15 against each other, but Cruz tore his ACL. They first met at WEC 26 in March 2007. At this point Faber was the WEC featherweight champion and one of the best fighters in the world. This was Cruz’s first big fight and only second at featherweight. Faber dominated and won by guillotine choke in the first round. The second fight happened four years later at UFC 132. At this point both men had dropped down to bantamweight with Cruz holding the title. This won Fight of the Night as it was a great five round fight. I think this was the best bantamweight we’ve seen so far. Cruz retained his title and Faber lost his fourth title fight in a row. This trilogy is something the bantamweight division could really use and it will be completed at some point, even if it isn’t for the title.
• So let me know how you guys would rank them or maybe I left one out that you thought should be in the top 10.
• As always, let me know if there are any topics or fighters you would like to see ranked in the future.
• Next week will be Rampage’s top ten career fights.
Try not to die til next week.