On Classic MMA Rematches

by Kevin Marshall   August 10, 2012 at 11:00AM  |  Views: 1,523

(Kevin Marshall's opinions are his own and do not necessarily represent those of Spike.)

Although rematches have always been the bread and butter of sports, they have not been as prevalent in MMA. Boxing has seen epic rematches and series the likes of Ali/Frazier, Leonard/Hearns, and Bowe/Holyfield, just to name a few.  Yet despite the financial success and appeal of rematches, the UFC has been reticent to do them with the same frequency as its sister sport. Whereas in boxing you'll often see a rematch in a hotly contested fight, in the UFC you'll only see a rematch if there's a controversial decision or circumstances require it. It's rare that a fighter simply loses a fight in an entertaining fashion and gets a second chance simply on the basis of people wanting to see the two fighters go at it again.

But there seems to be an exception when it comes to Frankie Edgar.

On Saturday, Edgar gets a shot at redemption against current Lightweight champion Benson Henderson, the upstart WEC transplant who upset him last February in Japan. Edgar's been down this road before. Twice, as a matter of fact; his previous title defense was a rematch against Gray Maynard, who fought him to a draw in their first encounter, and his first title win was accompanied by an immediate rematch.

He certainly doesn't have it easy. He's a technician who doesn't finish often, is small for his weight, and is probably the most underrated fighter to win a belt in the last decade.  Even worse is that every win seems to be cast with doubt and every loss with a twinge of heartbreak and/or controversy. This only makes him work harder, and it is that effort that that not only makes him the fighter he is but also puts him in more rematches than any other fighter currently on the UFC roster.

Predictions: Henderson vs. Edgar II
Get More: Predictions: Henderson vs. Edgar II

Those who saw the first encounter between Edgar and Henderson will certainly be clamoring for Saturday's bout. Barring one or both fighters having the worst night of their careers, they'll join these five fights in the pantheon of memorable MMA rematches.

Frankie Edgar vs. BJ Penn – UFC 118 8/28/2010
Their first encounter in Abu Dhabi was one of the biggest upsets in UFC history, especially considering that the general consensus seemed to be that Gray Maynard should have been given the title shot instead. That's probably why the UFC was willing to grant an immediate rematch. Penn is one of the best fighters in the promotion's history, so something must have been off. Or so we thought. In their second encounter, however, Edgar not only retained the title but did so in convincing fashion, eliminating any and all speculation that the first win was a fluke or a result of extended jet lag.

BJ Penn vs. Georges St-Pierre – UFC 94 1/31/2009
Newer fans may know him as "The Prodigy," but they may not be aware that at one time Penn was considered one of the best pound for pound fighters in the world, if not the best. As good as he was, he was his best at Lightweight, and it's scary to think that his best years probably came during the three year period that the UFC didn't even have a division, let alone a champion. Yet he was still a contender at 170, one of the few in his weight class who didn't cut weight and regularly came in under the limit at weigh-ins.  The first time they met resulted in a controversial split decision win for GSP. This encounter, however, left no room for doubt, with Penn's corner stopping it after four of five scheduled rounds.

Georges St-Pierre vs. Matt Hughes – UFC 65 11/18/2006
Another fighter that newer fans may not appreciate fully is Matt Hughes, who will go down as one of the most dominant champions in the promotion's history. In their first meeting he schooled GSP with an armbar early. For the five years prior to this fight, Hughes solidified himself as the best at 170, winning the UFC Welterweight Championship twice and successfully defending it a then record seven times.  Their second meeting, however, proved to be a reversal of fortunes as Hughes ran up against a surging St-Pierre. It was the anticipation and result of this fight that began St-Pierre's long reign of dominance, derailed only briefly by a flash knockout at the hands of Ultimate Fighter season seven winner Matt Serra. His win on this night, though, became symbolic; he not only vanquished his rival Hughes, but has since supplanted him as the consensus best welterweight of all time.

Lyoto Machida vs. Mauricio "Shogun" Rua – UFC 113 5/8/2010
Rashad Evans had barely hit the ground from Lyoto Machida's right hand when Joe Rogan made the hyperbolic pronouncement that the Machida Era had begun. At the time, it didn't seem like an overstatement. He went into his first title defense against PRIDE veteran Mauricio "Shogun" Rua with an aura of invincibility, but that aura was shattered when Rua took the fight to Machida, neutralizing and punishing him with vicious leg kicks. The judges gave it to the champion anyway in what remains one of the most controversial decisions in UFC history. Fans demanded a rematch and they got it, along with a spectacular finish.

Anderson Silva vs. Chael Sonnen – UFC 148 7/7/2012
Talk about guys with an aura of invincibility: Anderson Silva. What more can be said or written about the man that hasn't been already? Even with the claims of a rib injury, it was shocking to see Chael Sonnen dominate him for nearly five rounds in their first fight. The shock of seeing the greatest MMA practitioner of all time appear mortal, along with Sonnen's gift of gab, led to arguably the most anticipated rematch in MMA history this past July. But the narrative would be much different this time. Sonnen took the first round, but there wasn't the sense of danger that accompanied their first fight. The second round saw Silva gain control after a missed spinning backfist from Sonnen, who was finished shortly thereafter.

Of course, to say these are five of the most memorable doesn't mean that they're the only memorable rematches. The second fight between Fedor and Big Nog comes to mind, as does (like him or not) Brock Lesnar's revenge over Frank Mir in their second encounter. What other rematches stand out to you, and which ones would you still like to see? Connect to us through Facebook and let us know in the comments.

Image: Josh Hedges/ Zuffa LLC/ Getty Images


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