5 Best Trilogies in UFC History

Best Trilogies in UFC History

Ringside Report MMA’s look at the Best Trilogies in UFC History.  August 25, 2022. Hosted by Dave Simon and AJ D’Alesio.

Dave and AJ discussed Leon Edwards’ win over Kamaru Usman at UFC 278.
 
Dave and AJ talked about the likely trilogy fight between Edwards and Usman, the history of trilogy fights in the UFC and some of their favourite three-fight series.

Best Trilogies in UFC History
Best Trilogies in UFC History

Memorable & Best Trilogies in UFC History

In the Ultimate Fighting Championship annals, trilogies stand as a testament to the enduring rivalries and unparalleled competition that define the essence of MMA. This meticulous analysis of the 5 Best Trilogies in UFC History seeks to celebrate seven of the most exceptional trilogies gracing the octagon, offering aficionados a sense of camaraderie through shared combat history.

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Each series we explore is a combination of technique, heart, and the unwavering pursuit of mixed martial arts supremacy. The star ratings they receive reflect their significance in the sport. We delve into the strategic exchanges, the adaptation between contests and the indomitable spirit that drives these warriors through each round. The trilogies we discuss have not only illuminated these athletes’ careers but have also become an integral part of the community’s collective memory. They echo the passion and dedication that are hallmarks of UFC enthusiasts worldwide.

Key Takeaways

  • The Stipe Miocic vs. Daniel Cormier trilogy is considered one of the most significant in UFC history, with each fighter winning a fight before Miocic emerged victorious in the final match.
  • The Chuck Liddell vs. Randy Couture trilogy showcased two iconic fighters and established Liddell’s dominance in the light heavyweight division.
  • The Tito Ortiz vs. Ken Shamrock trilogy was more about the intense rivalry between the fighters rather than competitive fights, with Ortiz winning all three matches.
  • Although not a title fight trilogy, the Nate Diaz vs. Conor McGregor rivalry generated significant anticipation and viewership, with each fighter winning one match and fans eager for a third fight to settle the score.

Introduction to the Best Trilogies in UFC History

There have been several trilogies that have captured the imagination of mixed martial arts fans globally. However, the Ringside Report Network has chosen these as the five best trilogies in the history of UFC, as they continue to stand out as the most compelling and consequential in UFC history. These trilogies have not only been fan favourites but have also profoundly impacted fighter legacies. Each bout within these trilogies has contributed to the narrative arc of a fighter’s career, with pivotal moments cementing their statuses in the annals of the sport.

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As marketing tools, trilogy fights have been instrumental in drawing viewers, with their storylines and the emotional investment they command creating a unique atmosphere that resonates with the audience. Over time, the evolution of trilogy fights has mirrored the growth of the UFC itself, transitioning from mere rematches to epic sagas that define and distinguish the promotion.

Memorable moments in trilogy fights, be it a knockout finish or a technical grappling display, have become a staple of mixed martial arts folklore. These high-stakes encounters offer a wrestling-focused showcase that often exceeds expectations, earning star ratings that reflect their significance. They unite the community, fostering a sense of belonging as fans repeatedly witness history in the making.

Stipe Miocic beating Daniel Cormier in the concluding fight of the trilogy
Stipe Miocic beating Daniel Cormier in the concluding fight of the trilogy.

1. Stipe Miocic vs. Daniel Cormier

Amid the pantheon of UFC trilogies, the heavyweight clash between Stipe Miocic and Daniel Cormier stands out for its dramatic shifts in momentum and high-stakes championship implications. The trilogy captivated audiences with its electrifying stand-up exchanges and showcased a masterclass in wrestling prowess, with each combatant imposing their will on the ground at pivotal moments.

  • Trilogy significance: The Miocic vs. Cormier trilogy will forever be etched into UFC history’s annals, giving the heavyweight division some of its most defining moments.
  • Impact on fighter legacies: Each bout played a crucial role in shaping the legacies of both men, with Miocic solidifying his status as a heavyweight GOAT and Cormier’s career being celebrated for his versatility across weight classes.
  • Evolution of trilogy fights: This series symbolized the evolution of trilogy fights, where marketing value intertwined seamlessly with pure competitive spirit, setting a new benchmark for what fans can expect from combat storytelling.

Their strategy and adaptation over the three fights are a testament to the high-level wrestling acumen both possess. Grappling exchanges and clinch work were pivotal, with Miocic’s adjustments in the second fight earning him star ratings among grappling aficionados. The trilogy resonated deeply with fans, drawing them into a shared experience celebrating athletic excellence and the warrior ethos, so we included it in our choice among the 5 Best Trilogies in UFC History.

Chuck-Liddell beats Randy Couture in their third fight
Chuck-Liddell-beats-Randy-Couture-in-their-third-fight

2. Chuck Liddell vs. Randy Couture

Frequently hailed as one of the most iconic trilogies in mixed martial arts, the Chuck Liddell vs. Randy Couture rivalry epitomized the golden era of the UFC’s light heavyweight division. The Liddell Couture rivalry delivered a series of iconic matchups that resonated deeply with fans, creating a sense of community and shared history. The trilogy’s significance cannot be overstated; it was about more than just the belt and shaping division legacies; we couldn’t leave it out of our ranking of the Best Trilogies in UFC History.

Their first bout at UFC 43 saw Couture, the consummate wrestler, utilize his grappling acumen to secure a third-round TKO, leaving fans in awe of his strategic prowess. However, Liddell’s comeback victories in UFC 52 and UFC 57, both by knockout, showcased his evolution as a fighter, adapting his takedown defence and striking to overcome Couture’s wrestling advantage. These wins earned Liddell star ratings that cemented his status as a legend of the sport.

Each fight was a masterclass in strategy and adaptation, with Liddell and Couture pushing each other to their limits. The trilogy left an indelible mark on the light heavyweight category, with both fighters’ careers inextricably linked through their shared battles. The reverberations of their clashes continue to be felt, influencing how athletes approach this ever-evolving sport’s mental and physical aspects.

Tito Ortiz dominates Ken Shamrock in their entertaining trilogy
Tito Ortiz dominates Ken Shamrock in their entertaining trilogy

3. Tito Ortiz vs. Ken Shamrock

Although Tito Ortiz dominated all three fights against Ken Shamrock, their trilogy is remembered for the intense personal rivalry and the way it captivated the attention of MMA fans worldwide. The significance of this rivalry was palpable, transcending the sport and pulling in a broader audience. Each bout was punctuated with memorable fight moments, from Ortiz’s ground-and-pound ferocity to Shamrock’s unyielding defiance. The impact on their legacies was profound, with Ortiz solidifying his reputation as a dominant champion and Shamrock further establishing his status as an MMA pioneer. It was a tough decision, but we counted it among our selection of the five Best Trilogies in UFC History.

The trilogy’s narrative was enriched by:

  • Trilogy fight strategies: Ortiz’s wrestling expertise and tactical ground control versus Shamrock’s experience and submission attempts.
  • Impact on UFC promotion: The rivalry’s heated exchanges and confrontations during promotions elevated the UFC’s profile in its early years.
  • Memorable fight moments: Ortiz’s post-fight antics and Shamrock’s resilience created iconic images still discussed among the UFC faithful.

For fans seeking a sense of belonging, the Ortiz-Shamrock trilogy was a unifying spectacle, a shared historical benchmark highlighting the raw emotion and competitive spirit intrinsic to MMA.

Georges St Pierre submits Matt Hughes in Fight 3
5 Best Trilogies in UFC History 9

4. Georges St-Pierre vs. Matt Hughes

Georges St-Pierre‘s ascent to mixed martial arts greatness was punctuated by his iconic trilogy with fellow welterweight legend Matt Hughes. This series of bouts highlighted the technical evolution of both fighters. They had a profound legacy impact on the sport, as each match added to the storied fighter reputation of both men; as such, we’ve included them in our list of the Best Trilogies in UFC History.

  • Trilogy Significance: Each fight marked a pivotal moment in the welterweight division, with St-Pierre’s victories, particularly in their second and third bouts, cementing his status as a dominant force and marking the passing of the torch from Hughes.
  • Memorable Moments: Hughes’ armbar victory in their first clash, St-Pierre’s head kick and subsequent TKO in the rematch, and GSP’s armbar finish in the rubber match are etched in the annals of UFC history.
  • Wrestling Mastery: Both fighters showcased exceptional wrestling prowess, with GSP’s ability to adapt and overcome Hughes’ grappling in the latter two fights demonstrating a star-calibre performance and strategic brilliance.

This trilogy’s narrative was not just about wins and losses but the relentless pursuit of excellence and the indomitable spirit of competition. The trilogy rivalries in the UFC are built on such sagas, resonating with fans who relish the shared journey of witnessing legends forged in the Octagon.

UFC155
Cain Velasquez vs. Junior dos Santos in their second battle at UFC 155

5. Cain Velasquez vs. Junior dos Santos

Embodying resilience, the heavyweight trilogy between Cain Velasquez and Junior dos Santos marked a titanic clash that shaped the landscape of the division. The legacy impact of their encounters is undeniable, with each fight etching their names into the annals of UFC history. Velasquez’s trilogy dominance was established in the latter two bouts, rebounding from an initial defeat to showcase a blend of power and wrestling acumen that overwhelmed dos Santos.

The trilogy was replete with memorable moments, notably, Velasquez’s relentless takedowns and ground-and-pound that secured his victories in the rematches. This heavyweight rivalry offered a fight analysis that underscored the importance of a multifaceted skill set in the division’s upper echelons. Velasquez’s five-star wrestling performance demonstrated how grappling prowess can decisively tip the scales in a fighter’s favour in their second and third meetings.

In the hearts of fans, this trilogy stands as a testament to the sheer will and tenacity emblematic of the sport’s elite. Velasquez and dos Santos’s trilogy, brimming with dramatic turnarounds and physical chess matches, remains a cornerstone of UFC lore, providing a narrative of rivalry and respect that resonates with the community.

Trilogies That are still possible

We would like to see Alexander Volkanovski vs. Max Holloway 3
5 Best Trilogies in UFC History 10

Alexander Volkanovski vs. Max Holloway

Alexander Volkanovski’s trilogy against Max Holloway has cemented both fighters as top contenders in the featherweight division, with Volkanovski securing a definitive lead in their historical matchups. The significance of the featherweight trilogy cannot be overstated, as it has had a profound impact on the division, showcasing the pinnacle of tactical and technical warfare.

  • Holloway’s redemption: Analyzing Volkanovski vs. Holloway trilogy
  • Tactical adjustments: Holloway’s strategy in trilogy fights
  • Volkanovski’s dominance: Breaking down his victories over Holloway

Volkanovski’s dominance was evident in their bouts, particularly in his wrestling game, which earned high star ratings for control and adaptability. Holloway’s redemption arc throughout the trilogy was a narrative of resilience, with each fight demanding tactical adjustments. The Blessed Express significantly changed his strategy, especially in the striking realm, to counter Volkanovski’s pressure and grappling prowess.

The trilogy decider, though currently speculative, is a topic of fervent discussion, with fans and analysts making predictions for a potential third fight. This matchup epitomizes the spirit of competition, camaraderie, and belonging, as both warriors vie for supremacy in a division they have helped to define.

Is a third Nate Diaz vs. Conor McGregor fight still a possibility?
Is a third Nate Diaz vs. Conor McGregor fight still a possibility?

Nate Diaz vs. Conor McGregor

The rivalry between Nate Diaz and Conor McGregor is among the most electrifying non-title trilogies in UFC history, with each fighter holding a victory and fans eagerly awaiting a decisive third bout. The fight analysis of Diaz vs. McGregor reflects a fascinating contrast in styles, with Diaz’s high-volume boxing and adept ground game clashing against McGregor’s precision striking and movement.

Diaz’s win over McGregor in their first meeting sent shockwaves through the division, challenging the invincibility of the then-featherweight champion and setting the stage for a historic rematch. The trilogy’s significance was amplified in their second encounter, as McGregor’s redemption, marked by a majority decision, showcased his ability to adapt and overcome adversity.

Fan anticipation builds around the question: Will there be a third Diaz-McGregor fight? The desire to witness the culmination of this storied rivalry resonates deeply within the MMA community, with both fighters’ legacies intertwined with the outcome.

How this trilogy will shape Diaz and McGregor’s careers is much debated. A conclusive third fight could be a defining legacy moment, either solidifying McGregor’s status as a resilient competitor or crowning Diaz as the ultimate foil to the Notorious One’s storied career.

Other Potential Future Trilogies

As the UFC continues to evolve, frequently emerging rivalries hint at potential future trilogies that could rival the classics we’ve witnessed thus far. Fans deeply invested in the grappling arts and the nuanced chess matches of wrestling can look forward to these potential showdowns that showcase technical prowess and heart.

Weight ClassPotential TrilogyWrestling Highlight
HeavyweightMiocic vs. NgannouTakedown defence
LightweightPoirier vs. GaethjeScrambling ability
WelterweightUsman vs. CovingtonControl and pressure

Potential heavyweight trilogies like Miocic vs. Ngannou promise a blend of explosive power and superior wrestling defence. In contrast, lightweight division trilogy possibilities might see Poirier vs. Gaethje deliver relentless pace and scrambling that keeps the audience on the edge of their seats.

Exciting trilogies in the middleweight class could hinge on the technical grappling exchanges and submission threats that define the division. Meanwhile, unexplored trilogies in the welterweight division, such as Usman vs. Covington, offer a masterclass in wrestling control and pressure that adheres to the purest forms of the discipline.

Intriguing trilogy prospects in other weight classes beckon with the promise of fresh matchups and the potential to forge new legends in the annals of mixed martial arts. Each bout, from flyweight to heavyweight, carries the potential to unite the community in shared anticipation and respect for the combatants’ skill and determination.

Frequently Asked Questions

These trilogies are memorable not only for the quality of the fights but also for the storylines and rivalries they created. Here are a few notable ones:

How Do Fighter Weight Classes and Size Differences Impact the Dynamics and Outcome of a Trilogy Fight?

In trilogy fights, size advantage and reach significance can dictate striking range. At the same time, weight-cutting affects stamina, potentially leading to strength disparity and challenging fighters to adapt strategically over successive bouts.

What Psychological Factors Come Into Play for Fighters Facing the Same Opponent for the Third Time, and How Do They Prepare Mentally?

In the third encounter, a fighter’s mindset must exhibit mental resilience and emotional control, mitigating anticipatory stress and performance pressure to optimize strategy and execution within the octagon for a triumphant outcome.

How Has the Increased Availability of Fight Analytics and Video Studies Influenced the Strategies Adopted by Fighters in Trilogy Bouts?

The increased availability of fight analytics and video study has significantly elevated the strategic evolution in MMA. Data-driven training and recognition of predictive fight patterns have become crucial for preparing for high-stakes rematches.

What Role Do Coaches and Training Camps Play in a Fighter’s Ability to Adjust and Evolve Throughout a Trilogy?

Coaches significantly influence a fighter’s progression, with camp dynamics enabling technique refinement, effective injury management, and crucial corner adjustments, fostering a sense of community and belonging among fighters striving for continuous improvement.

How Do the Unified Rules of Mixed Martial Arts and Potential Changes to Them Over Time Affect the Rematches in Trilogy Fights?

Rule revisions and refined judging criteria can reshape rematches, while glove design developments, injury management improvements, and timekeeping tweaks also transform trilogy fights, fostering a feeling of fellowship among fans following the fighters’ journeys.

Conclusion

In conclusion, our list of the five Best Trilogies in UFC History that have taken place in the UFC have created a rich tapestry in the sport’s history. These trilogies have showcased technical mastery, strategic evolution, and indomitable spirit. Each trilogy serves as a testament to the fighters’ legacy, the sport’s growth, and the ongoing drama that defines mixed martial arts. These rivalry, resilience, and redemption stories have shaped the divisions and etched unforgettable narratives into the bedrock of combat sports folklore.

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