The 411 MMA Top 10 08.20.12: Top 10 Trilogies
Posted by Alex Rella on 08.20.2012
From Tito Ortiz v. Ken Shamrock and Randy Couture vs. Chuck Liddell to Wanderlei Silva vs. Quinton Jackson, Gilbert Melendez vs. Josh Thompson and more, 411’s Alex Rella breaks down his top 10 MMA trilogies of all time!
Top Ten Trilogies
Hey there gentle readers, I am Alex Rella and this is the MMA Top Ten. This week we will be looking at the top ten trilogies. But first, Thoughts from last week and other random stuff:
• Last week we looked at the top ten fighters to compete in different weight classes and Royce asked if Joseph Benavides would make the list if he wins the flyweight title. He would definitely get an honorable mention but I don't know if he takes Cruz's tenth spot.
• Rich Franklin was also suggested and he probably should have deserved an honorable mention last week.
Back to this week's list
So this week we look at the best trilogies of all time. Trilogies can be some of the most exciting stuff in MMA when done right. This week's list will be based on fight quality, significance, and of course my personal opinion.
• Sakuraba v. Silva - Feud of the Year in 2001 between two of the greats in Pride history but just a little too one sided as Silva dominated the Gracie Hunter in all three fights.
• Cro Cop v. Barnett- Cro Cop was at the peak of his career at this point and Barnett was returning to a top organization after testing positive for steroids in the UFC. Crop Cop won all three fights and the finale happened in the 2006 Pride Open-Weight Final GP.
10: Spencer Fisher v. Sam Stout
This is the only trilogy on the list not to have top fighters or top draws. Stout and Fisher spent their careers as mainly midlevel fighters that were never really able to break through to the top. But when they came together we got three great fights. The two lightweights met in 2006, 2007, and recently in 2012. Stout won the first and third meetings with Fisher taking the second fight. The final fight earned Fight of the Night honors with Fisher announcing his retirement afterwards. It's definitely a nice way to go out but I'd like to see him fight again. Fisher said if he did comeback it would be at featherweight, I think he would pretty good there so hopefully he does come back after an extended break.
9: Tim Sylvia v. Andrei Arlovski
The two heavyweights first met at UFC 51 fighting for the interim heavyweight title after Mir's motorcycle accident. The Pit Bull would win the first fight after submitting Sylvia with an Achilles lock only 47 seconds into the first round. The rematch would happen at UFC 59 with Arlovski now the UFC heavyweight champion and Sylvia had won his previous three fights. Arlovski was winning the fight before Sylvia threw some big defensive punches on wobbly legs and came back for the TKO victory in the first. The third fight would happen only two months later and would go the full five rounds. Sylvia would use his huge reach advantage and powerful jabs for the unanimous decision victory. The two are fighting for a fourth time at the end of this month for One FC. A fourth fight between the two actually kinda makes sense for both men at this point. Both are on decent win streaks and the winner might get a look at with a bigger organization.
8: Tito Ortiz v. Forrest Griffin
One of the more underrated trilogies as both men are better known for their other high profiled rivalries but all three fights were great. The first fight happened at UFC 59 and was Griffin's first real test in the UFC at that point. Griffin lost but he impressed everyone with how he was able to take everything Ortiz was throwing at him. This was Fight of the Year in 2006 and the rematch would take place three years later at UFC 106. Ortiz was originally supposed to fight Mark Coleman at UFC 106 but Coleman had to pull out after a knee injury and this was Griffin's first fight since getting the shit knocked out of him by Anderson Silva. The conditions were very different in this fight. Griffin had matured into a far better fighter and Ortiz hadn't won in three years. Griffin won the bloody fight by split decision and asked for the rubber match right after the fight. the final fight in the trilogy happened last month at UFC 148. Ortiz came out strong in the first two rounds but he ran out of gas towards the middle of each one. The third round went in Ortiz's favor as he was able to knock down Griffin with a right hand and then took him down. But Ortiz wasn't able to capitalize as he was too tired at that point. Griffin out struck Ortiz 2:1 and pulled out the unanimous decision victory 29-28. A lot of people criticized Griffin for not being able to put away Ortiz but it was his first fight in eleven months so it's understandable. The fight won Fight of the Night honors and it was a nice way to close out the rivalry and Ortiz's career.
7:Gilbert Melendez v. Josh Thompson
Scott Coker recently discussed this trilogy as being part of Strikeforce's legacy as these two fighters have been the pillars of the organization for years. This is all very true as these two guys gave us fifteen rounds of awesomeness. Melendez first became the Strikeforce lightweight champion in 2006 when he defeated Clay Guida and would hold the title for two years until Thompson defeated him, Thompson was also the Strikeforce U.S lightweight champion at the time. Melendez would win the title back in 2009 and we would get the third fight this past May. Thompson earned a title shot with a lackluster victory over KJ Noons and Melendez didn't seem interested in the fight saying he had nothing to gain in it. His logic was lame but we got another great fight out of it as Melendez won via split decision. Melendez recently turned down a fourth fight with Thompson which is understandable but the series definitely showed that Strikeforce does have some of the best fighters in the world.
6: Ô¸äîð Åìåëüÿíåíêî v. Antônio Rodrigo Nogueira
This trilogy was between the two greatest heavyweights of all time. They first met at Pride 25 in March 2003 when Big Nog was the Pride Heavyweight Champion. Big Nog became the heavyweight champ two years earlier when he defeated Heath Herring at Pride 17 and had only lost once at that point in his career (Dan Henderson King of Kings Tournament 1999). Fedor was the underdog coming into this fight, which sounds crazy now that he was ever an underdog. Fedor got in some big shots early in the fight and then controlled the rest of the fight with some brutal ground and pound. The rematch happened over a year later at the Pride 2004 Heavyweight Grand Prix Final. The fight was going pretty well until they accidently bumped heads and Fedor got busted open. The fight was ruled a no contest and the third fight took place a few months at Pride Shockwave 2004. Fedor would pull out another unanimous decision victory with his great takedown defense and out striking Big Nog for almost the entire fight. Definitely the best heavyweight trilogy.
5: Tito Ortiz v. Ken Shamrock
This feud started at UFC 19 when Tito Ortiz beat the crap out of Mezger with the first round TKO. This earned him a title shot against Frank Shamrock for the light heavyweight title and most importantly it really pissed off Ken Shamrock. After the fight, Tito put on a shirt that said, "Gay Mezger is my Bitch". Ken Shamrock then got on top of the cage and started screaming at Tito. John McCarthy then picked up Ortiz and carried him across the octagon so things wouldn't get worse. Shamrock continued to freak out backstage and it got so bad that the cops had to be called in.
The first fight eventually happened at UFC 40 when Ken Shamrock had returned to MMA after his time with the WWE. UFC 40 was arguably the most important pay per view in the history of the UFC. The company was going towards bankruptcy and this feud had been building for years. The dream fight finally happened and everyone thought it would be close. Shamrock almost knocked out Ortiz in the first but Tito dominated him after that scoring surprisingly easy takedowns and dominating with ground and pound. The next two rounds were similar in that Ortiz outwrestled Shamrock in a way nobody had seen before. Shamrock showed some life at the end of the second and third round but he didn't get in any significant offense. Shamrock said he had a torn ACL after the fight which could explain his poor wrestling but really he was just older and Ortiz was too good at the time. The next two fights wouldn't even be close when they met again in 2006 as Shamrock was an old man at that point who could no longer hang in the UFC. But the epic build and the first great fight earned it a top spot on this list.
4:Frankie Edgar v. Gray Maynard
Both fighters were undefeated when they first met in 2008. Maynard won by unanimous decision but Edgar has stated that it was the turning point in his career and it's hard to disagree. Edgar would go on to win the lightweight title from BJ Penn at UFC 112 and defend it in the rematch at UFC 118 and Maynard would defeat Kenny Florian in a number one contender fight in the same night. The rematch would take place at UFC 125 and would be one of the best fights of all time. The fight went the full five rounds and would end in a draw, it would go on to win fight of night and fight of the year awards. The third fight happened at UFC 136 and this time Edgar dealt Maynard the first loss of his career with a fourth round knockout. We'll probably see a fourth fight at some point in the future as the series is tied at 1-1-1. Even if it doesn't happen for a couple years I'm sure it will be awesome as well.
3: Matt Hughes v. Georges St-Pierre
This was a passing of the guard in the welterweight division. Matt Hughes at the peak of his career was arguably the best fighter of all time and then that guy Georges St. Pierre had to come along and ruin it. The two first met at UFC 50 after BJ Penn was just stripped of the title. GSP was undefeated at that point and we got a great fight with Hughes using his superior ground game to pull out an amazing armbar with only one second left in the first round. The second meeting at UFC 65 had a lot more buildup as Hughes ribbed GSP a good deal while on TUF 4 and GSP went inside the cage after Hughes defeated Penn to talk trash. It was another good back and forth fight with GSP kicking Hughes in the crotch way too many times in the first round. GSP would win the title with a TKO in the second round. They met again for the third time at UFC 79 for the interim welterweight title. Hughes was supposed to fight Serra for the title but he was out with an injury so we got the third fight instead. This really sucks for Hughes, because he probably would have been able to defeat Serra and pick up his third title. At this point GSP was just a far superior fighter and Hughes wasn't able to get anything going. Hughes would lose via armbar in an ironic switch of roles from their first fight.
2: Wanderlei Silva v. Quinton Jackson
This was the most heated trilogy on this list as you could just feel the hate between these two fighters. Two of the three fights would end with one of them unconscious. The two had been throwing back and forth comments at each other for awhile in Pride while Silva was the middleweight (205 lbs) champion. At Pride 17, Jackson would call out Silva after defeating Kevin Randleman. Silva would then get in the ring and shove Rampage. They would first meet in the finals of the 2003 Pride Middleweight tournament. Silva had just defeated Yoshida and Rampage just beat Liddell in the semifinals. The fight had some great action but it is most remembered for Silva ending the fight by throwing about twenty knees to Rampage's face in the muay thai clinch. I wish I had this fight on dvd so I could count the exact amount. The rematch would take place a year later and would be the Fight of the Year. This time Silva would only need five knees to knock out Rampage in the second round. The final fight would take place four years later at UFC 92 as the two men were at different points in their careers. Rampage would come out on top in the final meeting as he knocked out Wanderlei in the first round with a left hook. Rampage then threw two more punches with his hand around Silva's throat after the ref stopped the fight. There were rumors of a fourth fight for awhile but it died down as both men seemed to have buried the hatchet in recent years.
1: Randy Couture v. Chuck Liddell
Two of the best fighters in the history of the UFC competed in the best trilogy in MMA. They first met at UFC 43 in 2006 as they fought for the interim light heavyweight championship. The champion Tito Ortiz was sitting out with a contract dispute or some other bs at the time so these two fought for the interim belt. This was Couture's first fight at light heavyweight and Liddell was 12-1 at that point. Couture was the underdog going into this fight and surprised everyone when he was the first person to outstrike Liddell at that point. Couture became the first person to win titles in two weight classes in the UFC with the TKO victory over Liddell. The rematch would happen two years later after Liddell returned from Pride and won two fights in a row. Couture had defeated Ortiz to unify the titles and lost and regained the title from Vitor Belfort during this time. The UFC built up this fight by having both men coach the first season of TUF. Liddell would have the better team during the season and win the rematch with a first round knockout. The third fight would happen ten months later at UFC 57 and end with a second round KO sending Couture into retirement for awhile. Definitely the best trilogy with two of the best fighters of all time that helped with the UFC go mainstream.
• So let me know how you guys would rank them or maybe I left a trilogy 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.
• Save the date: Sept 14 I make my professional wrestling debut with Pro Wrestling Syndicate. Also appearing is Matt Hardy, Sami Callihan, Lex Luger, Anthony Nese, Demolition, Powers of Pain, and Mr. Belding from Saved by the Bell will be the commissioner for the night. So come check it out if you like wrestling, Saved by the Bell, or just want to see me shirtless.
• Next week I'll rank the most disappointing championship reigns.