When the UFC started back in 1993, the basic premise of the tournament was to pit fighters with different skills and backgrounds against one another in a series of dream matchups to see what the dominant fighting style was. Could a boxer beat a wrestler? Could a taekwondo specialist beat someone who trained in jiu-jitsu? Yet as the sport evolved to where fighters were becoming experts in more than one fighting style, the discussions soon ventured into which mixed martial artist could beat who, especially fighters from different promotions. These dream matches can be found discussed on numerous message boards and chat rooms with fans arguing everything that could happen in the potential matchup. Yet for almost nine times out of ten, these matches never happen for one reason or another.
This list is here to rank the top 15 fights that fans had wanted to see or that had been talked about as happening, but never did. Many of these fights listed were at one point or another close to happening but fell through before anything could happen inside the cage, though there are some dream matches as well that fans will continue to discuss as to what would happen if two certain fighters met each other in a fight.
The fights are ranked on how much they were talked about as possibly happening, the quality of the matchup, and the impact of the fight, among other things. There are a couple fights on the list that could still technically happen so they are ranked lower on the list, other than that there is almost zero chance of these fights happening. So please read, enjoy, and let us know what you think down in the comments section. How would you have ranked these differently? Are there other fights that you felt should have made the list or that one of the entries should be ranked differently?
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15 Dominick Cruz vs. Urijah Faber III
One of many fights on the list that was cancelled due to the injury bug was the rubber match between Dominick Cruz and Urijah Faber. The two were opposing coaches on the live season of The Ultimate Fighter and Cruz was set to defend his Bantamweight Championship for a second time against Faber but the fight would be called off as Cruz would injure his ACL. Faber would face Renan Barao for the Interim Championship while Cruz was on the shelf for a couple years, eventually getting stripped of the title. This match could still happen, though with Cruz recently re-injuring his ACL, it seems unlikely that it will.
Who would win? As with their second fight, Cruz would use his speed and in and out fight style to outpoint Faber, barring Faber getting a hold of Cruz long enough to try and submit him.
14 Brock Lesnar vs. Frank Mir III
One of the most bitter rivalries in the UFC was between top heavyweights Brock Lesnar and Frank Mir, which began when Mir caught Lesnar in a kneebar and submitted him in his UFC debut. After that a war of words began with the two leading up to an Heavyweight Championship match at UFC 100 where Lesnar defeated Mir in the second round by TKO. The two still continue to trade barbs but a rubber match never materialized as Lesnar was sidelined a couple times by diverticulitis. If Lesnar returns to the UFC, it only makes sense to have him complete his trilogy with Mir as both are nowhere near the top of the congested Heavyweight division and the match will give the UFC a chance at one of the best buyrates that it has had in years.
Who would win? With both matches, Mir had no real answer for Lesnar’s wrestling, but was able to capitalize on his rookie mistake and submit him in the first match. I feel that this third fight would mirror the second with Lesnar winning by TKO in the early rounds.
13 Gina Carano vs. Ronda Rousey (possibly)
One of the most talked about topics in 2014 was the possible return of former WMMA superstar Gina Carano and the thought of her facing off against current Women’s Bantamweight Champion, Ronda Rousey. The return rumors went on for months but nothing ever came of it with Dana White stating that it was “complicated.” Hopefully, this fight could still happen.
Who would win? With such a long layoff between fights, Carano would have some serious ring rust, which is not something that one would want going in against one of the top female fighters in the world. I would expect another first round armbar submission victory for Rousey in this tilt.
12 Jon Jones vs. Anderson Silva (possibly)
The fight that fans have been demanding for years now seems like it will never happen. A fight between longtime Middleweight kingpin Anderson Silva and current Lightheavyweight juggernaut Jon Jones was a dream match that many feel would decide who the greatest MMA fighter of all time is. Unfortunately, both fighters teased wanting to fight every once in a while, yet mostly just stating that they never would fight each other. This was further confirmed as both began to train with each other, putting a real damper on the idea of fighting each other.
Silva's always open to taking fights that may not move him up the rankings, like his fights versus Stephan Bonnar, James Irvin, Forrest Griffin, and now Nick Diaz, so it does not seem like such a pipedream that he would fight Jones. Jones on the other hand may be willing to take this fight to help rebuild his reputation depending on how his failed drug test plays out. A huge payday for both would probably sweeten the deal as well.
Who would win? Talk about the million dollar question. Looking at both fighters and their skill sets I feel that Jones would use his wrestling to manhandle Silva for the whole fight while getting in some ground and pound. Unless Silva is able to repeat his submission magic as he had against Chael Sonnen, I see Jones winning a brutal decision or a TKO victory in the later rounds.
11 Dan Hardy vs. Matt Hughes
One of the most unlikely and out of nowhere rivalries that have come up in recent years is between Welterweight Dan Hardy and UFC Hall of Famer Matt Hughes. The bad blood began after Hardy had choice words for Hughes and his preference for hunting. Words have been exchanged between the two but with Hughes being retired and Hardy not fighting due to a medical condition, the fight never materialized.
Who would win?
In his later fights, Hughes showed that his chin was not what it used to be as he was knocked out by BJ Penn and Josh Koscheck in his last fights. Yet Hardy has had a big problem against wrestlers like Georges St. Pierre and Chris Lytle. So if Hughes is able to weather the storm and quickly get inside with a takedown, I see Hughes picking up the victory.
10 Chuck Liddell vs. Frank Shamrock
After defeating Tito Ortiz at UFC 22, Frank Shamrock left the UFC citing a lack of faith in the direction the company was going. Ortiz would win the vacant Lightheavyweight, then Middleweight Championship and defend it five times. The unfortunate thing in all of this was that Shamrock would never face an up and coming fighter by the name of Chuck Liddell, who in a coincidence fought earlier in the night at UFC 22. Liddell would rack up an impressive record before finally winning the Lightheavyweight title and defending it four times. The match would be a back and forth affair between two well rounded fighters who are considered by many to be two of the best Lightheavyweight fighters of all time.
Who would win? This is tough to say as both men were very skilled in the Octagon. Yet if the match took place around the time when Shamrock left the UFC, I would have to say he would win as Liddell was still quite a partier who might not have taken the fight as seriously as he should (see the first fight with Couture).
9 Josh Barnett vs. Fedor Emelianenko
One of the fights on the list that had a chance of occurring a couple times was a potential fight between Heavyweight champs Josh Barnett and Fedor Emelianenko. The two were originally set to fight one another at the third PPV for Affliction Entertainment, but Barnett tested positive for banned substances which not only cancelled the fight, it cancelled the PPV and led to the whole promotion folding. The two would then have the chance to meet each other inside the cage as they were a part of the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix, unfortunately Fedor would lose in the first round of the tournament to Bigfoot Silva.
Who would win? While Barnett has barked about how catch-as-catch-can wrestling is a superior style to control opponents, he has also shown to be susceptible to opponents with knockout power and those with strong submission skills, which Fedor has aplenty. I would expect Fedor to be able to keep the fight standing and land a hard shot to Barnett’s chin, ending his night early.
8 Michael Bisping vs. Anderson Silva or Chris Weidman for the MW Title
If there was ever a dictionary definition of an elite gatekeeper, it would be a picture of Michael Bisping. The British MMA superstar has always seemed on the cusp of getting a title shot, but when push comes to shove it always seems to elude him. First he would be knocked out in fantastic fashion by Dan Henderson, then when he was a win away from a shot he would lose a decision victory to Chael Sonnen, and then recently he would be knocked out by Vitor Belfort. It is really unfortunate as it is clear the UFC would love to have him fight for the title, as it would really cement their foothold in the UK, especially if Bisping were to win, but also for Bisping as he does have the resume that says he should have at least gotten one shot at the title in all of his time in the UFC.
Who would win? Going against Anderson Silva is a daunting task for anyone, Bisping included. Silva would use his speed and agility to keep the Brit at bay before finally sending him to the canvas unconscious. Against Chris Weidman, I would expect the American’s wrestling acumen to show and Bisping would lose by a lopsided decision or a later round TKO.
7 Chael Sonnen vs. Wanderlei Silva
In a fight that was supposed to happen late last year, the match between bitter rivals Chael Sonnen and Wanderlei Silva never happened, and in fact ended up with both men receiving bans from MMA. The two had been in a war of words for a couple years leading up to them coaching opposite of each other on The Ultimate Fighter Brazil, with the two getting into a brawl with one another during one episode. Unfortunately, their end of the season coaches’ fight never took place as Silva would end up running away from a random drug screening and Sonnen would then test positive for banned substances. Both would retire from MMA, but Sonnen would have a two year suspension while Silva would face alifetime ban by the NSAC.
Who would win? While Silva definitely has the advantage in the standup department, it would be Sonnen who would dictate the pace of the fight using his wrestling. It would be wise to expect a decision win for Sonnen barring a surprise submission attempt from Silva.
6 Chuck Liddell vs. Tito Ortiz III
Another Ultimate Fighter coaches’ fight that never came to be was the third match between Chuck Liddell and Tito Ortiz. The two had been exchanging words for years since their last fight and they were set to fight once more after the season was over. Unfortunately, Tito’s neck problems resurfaced and he was pulled from the fight as well as coaching duties for the final episodes of the season. Liddell would face Rich Franklin and would be knocked out in the final seconds of the first round, and would retire after the match.
Who would win? Without a doubt I feel that Liddell would win for a third time against Ortiz, his takedown defense and striking being too much for “The Huntington Beach Bad Boy.”
5 Frank Shamrock vs. Ken Shamrock
A dream match spurned by some apparent bad blood between adopted brothers Frank and Ken Shamrock. There had been talks of both wanting to fight in various promotions including the IFL and Strikeforce, but nothing ever came of it and by all appearances the brothers have settled any disagreements that they had with one another.
Who would win? Between the two I feel that Frank would have picked up the victory as he was the more well rounded fighter of the two Shamrocks, most likely earning a decision victory over Ken if he was unable to submit him.
4 Randy Couture vs. Mirko Cro Cop
This fight was so close to happening but it got derailed by a single kick. After coming over from Pride, many expected Mirko Cro Cop to tear through the UFC Heavyweight division. After winning his debut against Eddie Sanchez, Cro Cop was pitted against Brazilian Gabriel Gonzaga in a title eliminator to face off against champion Randy Couture. Unfortunately Gonzaga would knock out Cro Cop with his signature head kick and get the title shot for himself. After that Cro Cop would bounce around the upper mid level of the Heavyweight Division before leaving the UFC after a loss to Brendan Schaub while Couture would follow a similar path before retiring after losing by knockout to Lyoto Machida.
Who would have won? This is a tough fight to call but I feel that Couture would get on inside the range of Cro Cop and use his signature dirty boxing to negate the Croatian’s strikes, getting a TKO victory in the later rounds.
3 Ronda Rousey vs. Cyborg Justino
A fight that has been mired in arguments over weight and past drug violations, the potential fight between Ronda Rousey and Cyborg Justino seems like it will never happen. Cyborg wants the fight at 145 pounds while Rousey wants the fight at 135, and then add in the butting heads of Dana White and Cyborg’s former manager Tito Ortiz, the fight was doomed from the start. With neither side willing to budge, this fight will most likely never happen.
Who would have won? Another interesting matchup of styles between two fighters, it basically comes down to who dictates where the fight happens. If Cyborg keeps it standing she should blow through Rousey who is still developing her standup game, yet if Rousey takes down Cyborg she should be able to submit her after wearing her down with constant transitions and strikes.
2 Fedor Emelianenko vs. Alistair Overeem
While there were always talks of a Brock Lesnar vs. Fedor Emelianenko fight, the potential fight between Fedor and longtime Strikeforce Heavyweight Champion Alistair Overeem went on for a lot longer for nothing to ever materialize. Whether it was Overeem never actually defending his title in Strikeforce outside of one time against Brett Rodgers or that in the Heavyweight Grand Prix Fedor was eliminated in the first round by Bigfoot Silva and Overeem was released from the promotion, there just seemed to be too many hurdles to these men fighting each other.
Who would win? Overeem has historically had a weak chin and that is not the best thing to have in a fight against one of the greatest MMA fighters of all time. Unless Overeem is able to keep Fedor at bay with his reach, I expect that Fedor finishes him in the early rounds.
1 Randy Couture vs. Fedor Emelianenko
For years, both fighters involved and MMA fans around the world wanted to see who would win between five time world champion Randy Couture and fellow world champion and Pride Legend Fedor Emelianenko. The main issue for this fight was almost completely managerial as Dana White and Fedor’s management team could not come to terms for bringing Fedor to the UFC. This caused strife between Couture and White when it came time for contract negotiations as Couture pushed hard to bring in Fedor, resulting in Couture leaving the promotion for a short while. The two would eventually have a fight of sorts as they showed off the new EA Sports MMA video game, facing each other as themselves with Fedor winning by TKO. Overall it was truly unfortunate that when it came time to fight, it was not the fighters or an injury holding everything up, it was the money men.
Who would win? This is a very tough one to call as both men were well rounded and could do damage from anywhere in the cage. I feel that Fedor would eventually eek out the victory though I would not be surprised to see the fight go to a draw.
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