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The Eight Greatest Fights That Never Happened

8. Fedor Emelianenko vs Josh Barnett
As Emelianenko climbed to the top of the PRIDE heavyweight ranks, the only fighter who eluded one of his signature ass-whippings was the one big name he never fought: the Baby Faced Assassin, Josh Barnett. When his name came up as a possible opponent for Fedor at Yarennoka!, our heart skipped a beat. Then, reality set in. Fedor would most likely do to Barnett what he does to everyone else — turn him into a human punching-bag for 2-15 minutes depending on how hard his skull is — but Barnett is an A-level fighter and it wouldn’t be fair to count him out against anybody (even though we just did).

7. Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic vs. Andrei Arlovski
While every other heavyweight match the UFC books seems to feature Tim “Xanax” Sylvia, the organization’s two most exciting stars are sitting on the bench. Anytime you put two offensive powerhouses — neither of whom has much of a chin — in a cage together, you’re guaranteed to see fireworks. It doesn’t matter that Cro Cop is coming off of back-to-back losses and there really wouldn’t be anything on the line; fans would kill to see these guys bash it out.

6. Randy Couture vs. Mark Coleman (circa 2000)
Mark Coleman used to be the most accomplished wrestler in mixed martial arts, and is often credited with inventing “ground and pound.” The ageless Couture has since eclipsed him, but the relentless attack of a top-of-his-game Coleman would have been a tough match-up for the Natural. Both fighters went undefeated in 2000, with Couture winning the UFC’s heavyweight title for the second time and Coleman winning the PRIDE Grand Prix, and a fight between them at that moment in their careers would have been legendary.

5. Shinya Aoki vs. BJ Penn
Japanese star (and Shooto‘s middleweight champion) Shinya Aoki has a lot in common with BJ “The Prodigy” Penn — for one thing, neither fighter has ever been submitted. And though their opponents have known better than to intentionally tangle with them on the ground, a match between the two would make for a grappling master-class. But considering that Aoki isn’t heading to the UFC any time soon, and BJ seems committed to making a go of it as a lightweight, a “Battle of the Ground Gurus” will probably remain a pipe dream…

4. Chuck Liddell vs. Wanderlei Silva — in 2004
When PRIDE star Wanderlei Silva showed up at UFC 61 in July of last year, his staredown with Chuck was the highlight of the show, and the UFC announced that two would be fighting that November. Unfortunately, negotiations between the UFC and PRIDE fell apart and the biggest fight in MMA history was postponed to this year, where the two tarnished legends now sport a combined 0-4 with 3 KOs in their last four fights. But for all the excitement it generated in 2006, the fight was past its expiration date even then. If we had our way, we’d watch these two bruisers face off in 2004, when Silva was in his prime and Liddell was still hungry and heading for his first UFC title.

3. Dan Henderson vs. Frank Shamrock
These days, Frank Shamrock rests comfortably as Strikeforce’s middleweight champion, but worthy opponents are increasingly hard to come by. If he’s looking for suggestions, we’d love to see him check in with Dan Henderson, who Shamrock beat in a submission wrestling event ten years ago. In the ensuing decade, Henderson’s accomplishments have been stellar, and a middleweight superfight against Shamrock would be something no fan could miss. Unfortunately, we’ll be stuck watching Frank “doing a little sibling rivalry in the ring” with his batshit crazy brother Ken.

2. Randy Couture vs. Fedor Emelianenko
Bottom line is, this needs to happen. Couture will be a creaky 45 years old next October (the earliest possible time he’ll be contractually eligible to face Emelianenko, unless a UFC/M-1 co-promotion can be arranged), but his unrivaled strength and experience give him a fighting chance to be the first person to defeat the Russian juggernaut — and how wild would that be? As for Fedor, the most dominant heavyweight fighter in the sport should not be squandering his ability on guys like Hong Man Choi. Both men have a lot to prove — until they meet, neither one can legitimately claim the title of “Greatest of All Time.”

1. Rickson Gracie vs. Kazushi Sakuraba
In the mid ’90s the Gracie family ruled the world of MMA, and their brand of jiu-jitsu launched a martial arts revolution. It had been nearly half a century since a Gracie tasted defeat in a mixed martial arts competition…then came Kazushi Sakuraba. He stopped Royler, Renzo and Royce and won a unanimous decisions over the late Ryan, earning him the nickname “The Gracie Hunter.” But how would he have faired against Rickson, the man whose jiu-jitsu was the stuff of legends? Since Rickson retired from competition in 2000 (with an undefeated record), we’ll never know, and no matter how many times this fight occurs on a message board, it always falls short of the real thing.

Of course, that’s just our humble opinion. Let us know how you feel in the comments section…

Cagepotato Comments

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SupDu- February 25, 2008 at 12:30 pm
Seriously. Cro cop not much of a chin? He might not have the best in the business, but friggin' rewatch the pride fedor/mirko fight. How you can say that with a straight face is beyond me.
Brad- February 12, 2008 at 7:44 pm
Fantastic article!!! You shoulda had a Top 10 though.. Seriously, a Top 8?
VoodooMonk- February 1, 2008 at 4:24 pm
As far as Couture goes he talks a big game saying their is "No One" left but Fedor to fight what about Dan Severn. I think Dan would take Couture to school. Imean look at his stats he has beaten some of the best in the business winning 2 eight man tournaments. Randy has never done that!
eddie- January 31, 2008 at 11:22 pm
i agree on the rutten/gracie fight, that would be the best fight ever
jason- January 31, 2008 at 8:42 pm
what about tank abott when he lost back in the day it was huge.
doug- January 28, 2008 at 12:12 am
how about sakuraba v f shamrock
doug- January 28, 2008 at 12:11 am
i think rickson gracie and bj penn would be an excellent match.Not sure of gracies' fighting weight but penn has held his own with coture and others at a higher weight class while training.both have incredible bjj and penn has the hands standing while rickson has excellent hands on the ground.bas in his prime against wanderlei and i wouldnt mind seeing f shamrock vs randy or chuck
MMA Ninja- January 24, 2008 at 5:46 am
Fedor - Barnett will happen later this year if Barnett doesn't mess up a sure win over Alex

CroCop - Arlovski could still happen and could be really good still

Couture - Coleman - bleh, couture wasn't as good as he's been lately

Silva - Liddell - happened and was just as good as it could have been earlier

Aoki vs Penn may still happen, but ya it would be awesome

Henderson - Frank shamrock would be fun but probly never happen

Couture - Fedor could still happen, cross fingers

Rickson - Sakuraba could have been good for "history" purposes right after Royler's beating.
Robuka Kenderle- January 2, 2008 at 9:44 pm
The list is very good.

Fatboy is probably still seated in his mommy's basement and I have a gut feeling that he is Cartman's twin so to try to explain history to him would be a waste of time.

Anyone who knows MMA knows the importance of BJJ to the scene. Every fighter now HAS to have some knowledge of it. THAT is the Gracie family's doing.
When they came to the US were were in the midst of the kickboxing fad (My uncle had a mustache like Vic Theriault) and the only ground experience came from greco-roman wrestlers.

Could NFLers from 30-40 years ago play now? Are the NHLers of today faster, stronger, bigger than their counterparts?
These comparisons arent important.
The Fat Boy- December 27, 2007 at 9:34 pm
Randy/Fedor is #1. Unless you believe the Rickson hype. Only Brazilians and BJJ nuthuggers do.
Daniel- December 25, 2007 at 5:33 am
DUmbass... you forgot Bas Rutten vs Rickson Gracie
Tony Hall- December 24, 2007 at 11:41 pm
I Agree WE NEED TO SEE.....Fedor Vs Couture Soon before Randy retires and Trains younger guys for the rest of days.....I am a huge MMA fan and I really hope Dana makes this happen soon It will be the Best fight ever I love couture but Fedor is just scary with his relentless attacks.....He's the best on the ground and standing up I've ever seen and guys that might be better at the ground game can't keep Fedor down or hold him still to do anything No wonder he's called "The Russian Bear"......Good Luck couture If you Beat Fedor You'll be Idolized by All!
Squishy Dolphin- December 24, 2007 at 12:14 pm
I'm looking forward to finally seeing Wanderlei put Chuck "Get a new Haircut" Liddell in the hurt locker.

I really wish Dana would pull his own ego inflated head right out of his ass and make the Randy vs Fedor fight happen.
hammtron- December 23, 2007 at 11:27 pm
crocop doesnt have much of a chin?
Tanner- December 23, 2007 at 6:54 pm
good stuff man.