(We should all be that fired up, at least once in our lives. Props: UFC.com)
When BJ Penn knocked out Matt Hughes at UFC 123, one of the greatest rivalries in MMA history finally got its conclusion. And while not every two-fight series needs an immediate tie-breaker — the Internet has already informed Dana White what we think of Lesnar vs. Mir III — there’s something incredibly dramatic and satisfying about a good rubber-match. Off the top of our heads, here’s a few others we’d like to see…
Jason "Mayhem" Miller vs. Tim Kennedy
History: Kennedy def. Miller via decision @ Extreme Challenge 50 (2/23/03), Miller def. Kennedy via decision @ HDNet Fights: Reckless Abandon (12/15/07)
Why it needs to happen again: Look, I’m not going to hold my breath waiting for Jason Miller to agree to a catchweight fight with Nick Diaz under 185 pounds. Mayhem hasn’t even fought for Strikeforce since he squashed Tim Stout in April, and Kennedy is still without an opponent himself after dropping a decision to Jacare Souza in August — and he’s already mentioned that he wants another go-round with Mayhem. Strikeforce has two talented, unattached middleweights at their disposal with a storyline already in place. It doesn’t take rocket appliances to figure this out, guys.
Josh Koscheck vs. Diego Sanchez
History: Sanchez def. Koscheck via decision on the TUF 1 semifinals (aired on 3/28/05), Koscheck def. Sanchez via decision @ UFC 69 (4/7/07)
Why it needs to happen again: Koscheck is now hovering at top of the welterweight division, and Sanchez has returned there — and might become a force again, if his UFC 121 battle with Paulo Thiago is any indication. More importantly, we all deserve a re-do after the tentative, disappointing performance that Koscheck and Sanchez put in during their 2007 rematch. If Kos loses to GSP next month and Diego can pick up another big win at 170, it seems like the perfect time to settle the score.
Gilbert Melendez vs. Josh Thomson
History: Thomson def. Melendez via decision @ Strikeforce: Melendez vs. Thomson (6/27/08), Melendez def. Thomson via decision @ Strikeforce: Evolution (12/19/09)
Why it needs to happen again: After getting teep-kicked by Thomson for 25 minutes straight in their first meeting — and losing his lightweight title as a result — Gilbert Melendez roared back in the rematch. The result was one of the greatest fights of 2009. Unless Strikeforce wants to make KJ Noons fight out of his weight class again for another meeting with Nick Diaz (hmm, that’s becoming a recurring theme, isn’t it?), they should make Thomson vs. Melendez their marquee rivalry. The Cali fans love ‘em, and it’s a matchup that we’d never get tired of watching.
Phil Baroni vs. Ikuhisa Minowa
History: Baroni def. Minowa via TKO R2 @ PRIDE Bushido 7 (5/22/05), Minowa def. Baroni via decision @ PRIDE Bushido 9 (9/25/05)
Why it needs to happen again: Okay, this one assumes that Baroni gets bounced out of the UFC and returns to compete in Japan. (Not out of the realm of possibility considering his tough next opponent.) Baroni’s smash-ups with Minowa stand out as highlights in the careers of both fighters, and DREAM would be crazy not to sign the New York Bad Ass for a trilogy fight with their reigning Super Hulk champion. Besides, after being grossly outweighed in his last 11 fights, it might be interesting to see how Minowaman does against somebody close to his own size.
Sidebar: Four Rubber Matches That Should Happen as Long as It’s Convenient and There’s Nothing Better Going On
Donald Cerrone vs. Jamie Varner: At this point, I’m comfortable with the fact that Cerrone would probably beat Varner in a third fight. But both of their previous matches were entertaining, and if Cerrone feels the need to make it 2-1 against his arch-nemesis, I’d be happy to watch.
Matt Serra vs. Shonie Carter: Mr. International spoiled the Terror’s UFC debut via Hail Mary spinning-backfist at UFC 31, but Serra avenged the loss five years later on TUF 4. Now, Serra is coming off another tough loss and Carter says he’s retired. Bullshit. A final chapter in their rivalry would give both fighters a reason to get out of bed in the morning.
Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira vs. Josh Barnett: In 2006, the two heavyweight legends split a pair of decisions in PRIDE. If Big Nog tragically finds himself on the Strikeforce roster at some point, Nogueira/Barnett III would be a killer throwback match.
Chael Sonnen vs. Paulo Filho: Their first fight ended somewhat controversially, and their second fight wasn’t much of a fight at all. Hold the trilogy match in a country with no drug testing policy and watch the sparks fly.