The biggest buzz in recent UFC history surrounds the company’s top star and a guy becoming more and more of a fan favorite every time he opens his mouth. After Conor McGregor evened the score with Nate Diaz last Saturday at UFC 202, the immediate focus for Diaz — and the general public — was when would this fight would go down again.
McGregor has been mandated by president Dana White to defend his featherweight title next or give it up. Despite that, there are still cases being made for this to be both fighters’ next bout. Given that this would create one helluva trilogy between the two, we decided to take a look at where this three-fight series would rank against the best trilogies in UFC history.
This will be the top five trilogy fights in UFC history, and for these purposes, we will cap it as fights that had to take place in UFC, keeping series like Tito Ortiz vs. Ken Shamrock, Rampage Jackson vs. Wanderlei Silva and Diaz vs. Gray Maynard off the list.
I also did not include trilogies where one fighter won all three times. To me, it defeats the whole purpose of having a third fight.
Let’s get started.
5. Georges St-Pierre vs. Matt Hughes: Hughes is one of only two men to ever beat the man who is considered one of the best of all time in GSP. In 2004, Hughes defeated St-Pierre by scoring an armbar at the very end of the first round, preventing GSP from starting his reign as welterweight champion. But St-Pierre would get another shot at Hughes, beating him two years later via TKO to claim the welterweight title for the first time, setting up what would be the final part of an epic trilogy.
GSP leaned on his dominant wrestling background to control the action on the mat for the first round and a half before locking in Hughes’ with an armbar and forcing him to verbally tap out. The only reason this series doesn’t rank higher is for a lack of action between the two guys and none of the three fights went past two rounds.
4. Forrest Griffin vs. Tito Ortiz: These two MMA legends left it all on the line every time they stepped in the Octagon against each other. After splitting the first two fights (both by split decision), Griffin and Ortiz locked horns once again three years later in what would be Griffin’s final UFC fight. Ortiz installed his signature ground game to try and keep Griffin at bay while landing significant strikes.
But aside a solid hook from Ortiz in the second round and a knockdown in the third, Griffin controlled much of the action in the third and final fight. After the fight, Griffin joked that the two should go best out of five to decide who was really better. “I feel like we’ve got three draws to be honest,” Griffin said.
3. Nate Diaz vs. Conor McGregor: These two have done enough to merit inclusion among the top five trilogies if they do make this happen. They managed to hype up a fight on 11 days’ notice in March that lived up to the billing. Then, they put on an absolute show for 25 minutes on Saturday, trading massive shots and leaving beaten, battered and bloodied.
If we get the third installment of these two — even if it is not for a couple of years — it will still rank among the top trilogy fights ever.
2. Cain Velasquez vs. Junior Dos Santos — People will be quick to forget just how great these three fights were in the last five years. The two heavyweights were at the top of the game — and there’s an argument to be made one still is — and laid it all on the line three times. Velasquez was an upstart, undefeated champion after knocking out phenom Brock Lesnar.
Enter Dos Santos, who quietly crept his way up the heavyweight rankings with seven straight wins and five finishes. The first card on Fox saw Velasquez put the heavyweight belt on the line against Dos Santos. The result? The first KO of Velasquez’s career.
A year later, similar to McGregor-Diaz, the two left everything they had in the Octagon, landing massive shots and not really going to the ground much. Velasquez and Dos Santos traded blows for 25 minutes before Velasquez was named the winner, allowing him to reclaim his belt.
The two settled the score in 2013 when they fought for another grueling set of five, five-minute rounds before Velasquez finally stopped Dos Santos with a mammoth slam and TKO punch.
1. Randy Couture vs. Chuck Liddell: Two legends. Three iconic fights. These two were UFC originals, and each of the three times they squared off was must-watch TV. Couture got the best of Liddell the first time they met in 2003, scoring the first KO or TKO victory over “The Iceman” in the third round for the interim light heavyweight championship.
Two years later, Liddell would have his revenge on Couture, scoring the first KO of “The Natural” to claim the light heavyweight crown for the first time. The two would do it one more time, again with the belt on the line, when they squared off in 2006. They traded shots through the first round with Couture actually doing a decent amount of damage despite a cut under his eye.
But this is where “The Iceman” lived up to his nickname, dominating the fight and coming up with yet another KO punch after Couture slipped on the mat trying to set up a shot. Liddell caught him right on the chin and it was over. After the win, Liddell produced one of the signature celebrations that we’ve seen so many times over the years and the picture below sums up the rivalry pretty well.
If we can take anything from the history of these trilogy fights, it’s that the person who loses the first time historically wins the next two. So if McGregor and Diaz were to square off a third time, history says McGregor would be favored to win the third time.
Vegas agrees. McGregor is at -190 to beat Diaz (+155), according to Bovada.
One thing is for sure, we want to see both of these guys fight again very soon.
Source: CBS Sports / Here’s where Conor McGregor-Nate Diaz III would rank among UFC’s trilogy fights