Rematches are sometimes necessary to settle a score; sometimes to give a long-reigning champion another bite at the belt, and sometimes because the first fight was damn fun. While you may think those are the only reasons for a rematch, immediate or otherwise, there’s one more… Because boss Dana White wants it.
With the talk of Israel Adesanya getting another rematch after losing the belt twice in a year looming, a dominant champ Aljamain Sterling doesn’t seem to be getting the same opportunity. We were intrigued to discover other times a rematch happened, that weren’t even necessary.
5. UFC 218: Max Holloway vs. Jose Aldo 2
Jose Aldo’s reign at featherweight is the perfect example of a dominant champion. There’s no question that he deserved a rematch against Conor McGregor after the flash KO. But, the same couldn’t be said for his fight against Max Holloway.
Max and Aldo squared up for the first time in the main event of UFC 212. This was a title unification bout between the legends. Aldo had won the interim strap against Frankie Edgar, who was then promoted to the undisputed champion. Later, in the year Max defeated Anthony Pettis to become the interim champion.
The first fight had the fans buzzing and the Brazillian crowd was in full support of Aldo. The fight itself was a clinical performance by Holloway. The fight got stopped in the last minute of Round 3 and it was clear that Max was going to be the new king of featherweights.
The UFC 218 headliner was to be Holloway vs. Frankie Edgar, but less than a month out from the fight, Edgar had to pull out. Aldo was given an immediate rematch against the new champ. It turned out to be more of the same. This fight progressed the same as the last one. Max poured his shots, increasing the volume with each round and again, getting a TKO finish in the third.
4. UFC 160: Cain Velasquez vs. Antonio ‘Bigfoot’ Silva 2
UFC’s heavyweight roster has been unpredictable at all times. No champion holds on to the title for long, sometimes there are multiple candidates for a title fight, and other times, it seems there is no one to fight. Such was the case with Cain and Bigfoot Silva.
Silva was a red-hot commodity as he arrived in UFC, after handing Fedor Emelianenko his first loss. Bigfoot was paired against Cain, the perennial heavyweight of UFC who had just dropped his belt against Junior Dos Santos. So, the big men fought as the co-main attraction at UFC 146. The fight lasted less than 4 minutes and Cain made sure those 4 minutes were brutal for Bigfoot.
Cain took his belt back from JDM in his next fight. Then, UFC was at a loss as to who should be paired against the champ. Bossman Dana White somehow concluded that UFC 160 should be a main event between Cain and Bigfoot. The fight to make was the trilogy bout with JDM and everyone knew that. The matchmakers though, were left holding their heads in their hands as they tuned in for the main event. This time around, Cain only needed one and a half minutes to put away Bigfoot.
3. UFC Fight Night – The Final Chapter: Tito Ortiz vs. Ken Shamrock 3
This is one of the first instances of the newly promoted CEO Dana White getting his way. Tito Ortiz and Ken Shamrock were some of the first big names to emerge out of this new sport. They first shared the cage at UFC 40 in 2002. Tito was the light heavyweight champion and Ken was the challenger. Tito displayed his skills against the face of Shamrock, battering him for all three rounds and getting a TKO win after the third. The rivalry though was not done.
The pair met again in 2006 at UFC 61, this time for a 3-round bout. A lot had changed in the time between. Shamrock was 1-2 and Tito was having a falling out with Dana. But, their animosity towards each other was the same and it was up for display on TUF 3. The second fight didn’t even go past the 2nd-minute mark as Tito bludgeoned Ken on the canvas. The stoppage was not early by any means in today’s era, but Ken made a huge thing out of it as if he was going to take the beating the entire round and then win in the second.
That was the fuel Dana needed. A few months later, they both were fighting in the main event of a Fight Night for their trilogy bout. A trilogy bout that was 2-0 in favor of Ortiz. Tito battered Ken Shamrock for two minutes in his last fight under the UFC umbrella before the ref called it.
2. UFC 261: Kamaru Usman vs. Jorge Masvidal 2
It was one of those covid era fights. Jorge Masvidal had a phenomenal 2019, rarely will we ever see a fighter in UFC or anywhere else have such an amazing year. Especially after coming off of a two year rest. Masvidal starched Darren Till in a short-notice fight, then performed the famous flying KO against Ben Askren culminating with taking the BMF belt against Nate Diaz.
Kamaru Usman on the other hand had slowly risen to championship status. For his second title defense, he was set to face Gilbert Burns at UFC 251 on Fight Island, but Durinho got sick in the week leading up to the fight. In steps Street Jesus with a built-in excuse for being the last-minute replacement and a tough weight cut. The word on Miami streets was that ATT (Masvidal’s training center) had an idea that Masvidal would be fighting Usman soon. After all, he had campaigned for this fight…
The fight was a classic Usman performance; suffocating and dominating. As soon as UFC could get back into packed arenas, they put on the rematch. UFC 261’s main event at Jacksonville was Usman vs. Masvidal 2. The outcome was the same, but the journey to get there was a phenomenal Usman KO at the beginning of the second round.
1. TUF 19 Finale: Frankie Edgar vs. BJ Penn 3
BJ Penn has always been the chosen one for Dana and the UFC. Dana broke many unspoken rules for “The Prodigy”, and one of them was his rematch against the legend Frankie Edgar.
BJ Penn had been bouncing around weight classes, fighting at 170 and 155. But the first time he met Edgar was at UFC 112 to defend his lightweight strap. Edgar was the rising star at the time. He was ready for the challenge and handed BJ Penn a defeat in a close fight. They met again a few months later to determine the real king of the lightweight division in UFC 118’s main event. The decision this time was not controversial as Edgar defeated Penn for all five rounds on all the judges’ scorecards.
Their careers then went on completely different tracks. Edgar had a couple of awesome fights with both Gray Maynard and Benson Henderson before he went down a weight class to challenge Jose Aldo for the featherweight strap. Edgar turned out to be unsuccessful, but then defeated future great Charles “Do Bronx” Olivera in his next fight.
Penn on the other hand, changed his weight class again after the second bout with Edgar. Moving up to welterweight, where he bared poorly, going 1-2-1 in two years. Then he sat out for another two years and as he was making a comeback to a new division, going down 2 weight classes, Dana White once again matched him up with Frankie Edgar.
The legends first coached a season of TUF, and then were locked inside the cage for 5 rounds at TUF 19 Finale’s main event. One can study the deterioration of BJ Penn’s skill by looking at his three fights against Frankie Edgar The third time wasn’t even close, Frankie disposed of Penn in the 3rd round and made it look really easy.
It’s a Business After All…
Every business wants to make more money, so Dana White and UFC are no different in this regard. But, we can only hope we don’t have to sit through another meaningless rematch. The fate of Adesanya’s and Aljo’s rematch is in the hands of the bossman.
But we can assume one thing for sure; if its good for the business, he will put on those rematches.