The UFC helped gain and attain attention to MMA by not only having vicious fighters on their roster, but having what every sports fan yearns for: good, heated rivalries. Early days saw Tito’s feud with the Lion’s Den, poking at several fighters and creating a buzz around potential fights. Even though it became embarrassing towards the end, the initial rivalry of Ortiz vs Ken Shamrock was very entertaining. From Ken threatening to beat Tito into a living death and tossing a chair, to seeing the two restrain from killing each other on arguably the best season of TUF, it was thrilling to see two fierce competitors chomping at the bit to tear each other apart in the octagon.
Another nice feud was between former friends and training partners, and once again involved the Huntington Beach Bad Boy, but this time the riff was against the Iceman himself, Chuck Liddell. The first fight was a huge draw, and I know when the second fight was announced and with the belt on the line this time, I practically threw my money at the UFC. Lately we’ve seen sort of a drought when it comes to a nice rivalry or feud.
Maynard/Edgar I thought was spectacular, but since both fighters are not really known for their personalities, not many were emotionally invested to really elevate to the levels of Ortiz/Liddell. I was excited to see a grudge match in Jones vs Evans, but that too failed to catch the eyes of fans, seeing as how most felt it was not genuine and just a contrived gimmick by the UFC. Sonnen vs Silva I thought surely could be our new great rivalry, especially when Silva upped the ante and began his uncharacteristic smack talk, but once again it did not meet the feud we were all really hoping for.
So who do we have now? I was hoping to see maybe rivalry brew between Cruz and Faber seeing how they don’t particularly like each other, but that was tossed out the window due to the injury. I’m still hoping a Bisping vs any capable MW, because he would be the perfect guy to root against, but most elite MW’s brush off his trash talk and just give him a beating. Diaz and GSP could provide a very nice feud since GSP looks to be actually upset for the first time in his career, but we’re still unsure if that fight will ever happen.
We need a new rivalry I think to help with some of the cards that are lacking star power, and to even get some fresh eyes on our sport. What will make a new rivalry/feud worthy though? We need fighters that are evenly matched, I do not want to see one guy yapping about how great he is, just to see a one-sided beating (ex Miller vs Bisping). If two fighters are equally matched, it makes it much more interesting to see the outcome. We need to see some emotion, some heat! It would be nice to see guys that genuinely want to fight one another, a fight in which they just don’t like each other’s faces and want to pound the look off of it. With fans unhappy about the volume of PPV’s and the underwhelming fight cards, this would be the perfect opportunity to get people excited again and create a stir in the sport that it’s lacked for some time now. The question is, who’s it going to be?