Trilogies in Sports are always fun. You have the rubber match between two teams/people that need to decide once and for all, who is the superior athlete(s)
Sometimes, of course, a trilogy represents the final chance a person or team has to try and attain victory. Once can be a fluke, twice can be a mistake, a third loss is a definitive, you cannot get past this opponent.
MMA is a bit different. Sometimes a third match is clamored for when the first two were entertaining, sometimes the third match comes about due to an attempt to sell tickets with two proven draws and sometimes even to settle a grudge and to permanently dent an opponents legacy, since getting a fourth shot is almost unheard of.
So here we count down, the top MMA trilogies of all time in my opinion!
I still think Grey won the first title fight, but the following two solidified Frankie as a solid champion. I’m sad to see Grey basically fall apart after this series, I think it has something to do with him growing his hair out. This ranks here simply because no one outside of fans of the fighters really wanted this. Between Grey and BJ Penn, this title was held up forever with rematches and delays. 155 was simply on a tear and this series between two solid – but not overly exciting fighters – kind of hurt the prestige after all that time of BJ Penn just killing people like Diego Sanchez.
Fights: Draw 1-1-1
UFC Fight Night: Florian vs. Lauzon
Ok, this might be 2.5 fights, since we had a no-contest. But for Pride People, this one was awesome. Nog wiped the floor with everyone, literally, and could not be finished with a 12 gauge. Fedor was just getting his reputation as an unstoppage monster in his own right. Post Trilogy? Nog was still a force on the floor with an unbreakable chin, and Fedor might actually be a robot. one of the few times where both winner and loser came out looking better than they did going in.
Fights Fedor 2-0 (1 NC)
Pride Final Conflict 2004
Pride Shockwave 2004
Wandy was a brute. Just mauling everyone. Think Mike Tyson with feet. Rampage was a HULK. If he was in shape he might bust you up before he gassed. Rampage also had the added benefit of killing almost as many Japanese as the B-29s.
The fun part of these fights is the two Pride fights, Wandy just left an impression of everyone’s mind of what dominance looked like. Rampage might have been the better UFC fighter, but in Pride? Just another victim.
Fights: Wanderlei 2-1
Pride Final Conflict 2003
Read what I posted above about Maynard vs Edgar, and reverse it. Tito and Ken was almost entirely about the prefight hype, as Shamrock had no answer for Tito. It goes to show just how much of a genius Dana White is to get not only a rematch, but a highly rated Ultimate Fighter and a third match between the two and we watched it all.
Fights: Tito wins 3-0
UFC 61: Bitter Rivals
UFC Fight Night 6.5
Both men are 1 and 1a for GOAT 170 status, but these three fights show the rise of GSP. GSP couldn’t even look Hughes in the eye he was so intimidated, but by the third fight, he showed how much he had passed Hughes by. Hughes never looked better than he did in the first fight, and GSP looked like a man who would clean out the division by the third.
Fights: GSP 2-1
UFC 65: Bad Intentions
Yes the StrikeForce vs UFC dynamic was in play here, as some looked at this fight as a battle to be a top 5 fighters and not the best fighter on the planet. If you actually watched the fight, then you saw what those of us who saw these men fight already knew. These two could compete on any stage and both were deserving of top 5 talk. I’ve never thought Josh Thompson was anything better than a slightly larger fish in a small pond of Strikeforce, but his UFC work stands on its own.
Fights: Gilbert 2-1
Strikeforce: Barnett vs. Cormier
Strikeforce: Melendez vs. Thomson
Was there any doubt?
Randy Couture started the trilogy as a done fighter, having lost his last two at heavyweight and at 38, was past his prime. Chuck was being dodged by former buddy Tito Ortiz. Despite coming off two losses for the title, the UFC decided to give Randy another shot at gold. Chuck, riding a 10 fight winning streak and having never been knocked out and rarely taken down, was expected to take the title and retire the Legend. Like much in MMA, didn’t quite work out that way. Randy knocked out Chuck midway through the third round. After a stint in the Pride 205 Tourney, Chuck finally got his chance against Tito, mauling his former training partner, and after another win over Vernon White, for his rematch vs Randy. Two minutes later, Randy was facedown and a Chuck had his title. After both men won a followup fight, Randy was back for the rubber match. 90 seconds later, Randy was going back to heavyweight, and the slower fighters, and Chuck was off to cement his legacy as one of the best Light-heavyweights of all time.
Fights: Chuck 2-1
UFC 43: Meltdown
UFC 52: Couture vs. Liddell 2
UFC 57: Liddell vs. Couture 3
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