Get all your news in one place.
100’s of premium titles.
One app.
Start reading
USA Today Sports Media Group
USA Today Sports Media Group
Dan Tom

Top 5 rematches in MMA history, ranked

When it comes to rematches in mixed martial arts, there seems to be little room for mediocrity whether we’re talking about the expectation or the result.

If the first fight captured our imaginations, then we as human beings tend to let expectations run wild when going into the second meeting. But as far as results go, MMA sequels seem to either continue to pile on the action atop the intrigue of the horror a la “Aliens,” or they just end up leaving us with that feeling we had when we walked out of “The Matrix Reloaded.”

That said, this sport has given us plenty of “Godfather 2” candidates over the years that are worth acknowledging.

So, with that in mind, I thought it would be fun to revisit some of the most memorable sequels in MMA by listing my top five rematches of all time.

As usual, these lists reflect my personal tastes and are not meant to serve as some ultimate authority. That said, I feel very strongly about not only my list but also my honorable mentions at the end – which are more than strong enough to serve as their own top five.

So, without further ado …

Dustin Poirier vs. Max Holloway 2 at UFC 236 (April 15, 2019)

This may sound strange, but the fact that some people will be mad about this fight’s low placement on the list while others question it making the cut in the first place makes this a perfect fit for the No. 5 slot.

Following a Fight of the Year performance from Israel Adesanya and Kelvin Gastelum in the co-headliner for UFC 236, Dustin Poirier and Max Holloway still managed to deliver an instant classic for the interim lightweight title.

Not only does this fight represent two pound-for-pound greats facing off in their primes, but it also offers a bevy of technical layers for fellow fight nerds and analysts alike to peel apart.

The dynamic was a beautiful one that featured the builder in “Blessed,” who attempted to frame out the foundation for his offense in the face of a demolishing hurricane that was “The Diamond.”

Jose Aldo vs. Chad Mendes 2 at UFC 179 (Oct. 25, 2014)

Although this fight is usually toward the top of whatever list I put it on (which is a lot of them), it will have to settle for No. 4 here.

Aside from Jose Aldo’s second meeting with Chad Mendes being an all-time great MMA fight, it also offered all the intensity – and even controversy – that can take a rematch to the next level.

Aldo may have won by unanimous decision, but it was an ultra-competitive contest that featured some of the highest-level exchanges that this sport has seen in multiple phases.

It was so good that I remember throwing any rooting interest I had at the time right out the proverbial window. I love this fight.

Jorge Santiago vs. Kazuo Misaki 2 at Sengoku 14 (Aug. 22, 2010)

Despite Jorge Santiago’s second meeting with Kazuo Misaki earning the top spot for my top five middleweight fights, it finds itself at No. 3 on this list.

Between both fights ending in Round 5 to the fact that Misaki was up on the cards before his corner threw in the towel in the rematch, it’s hard not to appreciate the tragic poetry that can be amplified in these big fights.

Although each man can lay claim to impressive careers that go beyond their series together, their rematch at Sengoku 14 was an all-time-great MMA fight that deserves to be talked about more.

From back-and-forth knockdowns to tight submission attempts that will make you stretch the limits of your breath like Michael Schiavello did during this call, this fight has it all.

Robbie Lawler vs. Rory MacDonald 2 at UFC 189 (July 11, 2015)

Rory MacDonald

In a fight that most people probably have in their top spot, Robbie Lawler’s rematch with Rory MacDonald will have to settle for second on this list.

Recently inducted into the UFC’s Hall of Fame for good reason, this 21-minute war contained just about everything you could ask for.

Whether we’re talking about back-and-forth action to one of the best staredowns of all time, everyone remembers the first time they witnessed Lawler vs. MacDonald 2.

Not only is it easily one of the greatest welterweight wars of all time, but this battle also perfectly represents both the cost and reward of accumulating experience.

Wanderlei Silva vs. Dan Henderson 2 at PRIDE 33 (Feb. 24, 2007)

Notching the No. 1 spot is a classic from the Pride Fighting Championships catalog that still holds true in my heart.

You may not see Wanderlei Silva’s second meeting with Dan Henderson on many lists, but there’s no denying the historical importance of this matchup.

Aside from the fact that this fight headlined what is widely considered one of the greatest MMA cards of all time, Henderson was attempting to simultaneously hold two belts by dethroning a living legend and Pride’s lone middleweight champion in Silva (who sat on the proverbial throne for over half a decade at that point).

Hell, this card was so good that even the UFC’s Joe Silva and Lorenzo Fertitta attended to take in the action.

Round 1 was a bit of a slow burn but it definitely picked up toward the end of the frame with both men stunning each other on multiple occasions.

Although Henderson largely dominated round 2 via ground-and-pound, Silva came back strong in the third, forcing his American foe to dig deep into his bag of tricks.

After landing a sneaky spinning backfist, Henderson entered a pocket exchange that reminded the masses that he carries crushing knockout power in both hands.

And just like that, Henderson became the first fighter to simultaneously hold two major titles in two different weight classes during MMA’s modern era. A feat that’s still incredibly difficult to accomplish today.

*Honorable mentions: Gray Maynard vs. Frankie Edgar 2 at UFC 125, Robert Whittaker vs. Yoel Romero 2 at UFC 225, Alexandre Pantoja vs. Brandon Moreno 2 at UFC 290, Minoru Suzuki vs. Maurice Smith 2 at Pancrase 8, Dustin Poirier vs. Conor McGregor 2 at UFC 257

For a deeper dive into this topic, feel free to check out Dan Tom’s episode on the topic via The Protect Ya’ Neck Podcast.

Sign up to read this article
Read news from 100’s of titles, curated specifically for you.
Already a member? Sign in here
Related Stories
Top stories on inkl right now
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
Already a member? Sign in here
Our Picks
Fourteen days free
Download the app
One app. One membership.
100+ trusted global sources.