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5 fights to make if there was a trilogies only card in the UFC

Conor McGregor (R) and Nate Diaz (L) face-off at UFC 202: Weigh-ins
Conor McGregor (R) and Nate Diaz (L) face-off at UFC 202: Weigh-ins
Sagnik Bagchi

The UFC is the stage where the best mixed martial artists in the world showcase their skills. Naturally, the competition is fierce, and the stakes are high. Often a fight is decided on who performs better on that particular night.

TWO - TWO!?It all comes down to the fifth and final round πŸ† #UFC252 https://t.co/jiCVH1xg69

UFC lightweight Michael Chandler made a similar point in an interview with the Schmo. Looking back on his fight with Dan Hooker, he said:

''You can get caught on the chin by anybody on any night and it's over. So the fact that I was able to finish him [Dan Hooker] in the first two and a half minutes is not indicative of him not having a great chin, not being able to push the pace.''

This is among the reasons why two closely matched opponents fight each other more than once. Trilogies happen when no clear winner emerges even after the same competitors have fought twice. Over the years, the UFC has hosted multiple legendary trilogies.

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So what if the UFC were to organize a main card with only trilogies? Well, there is certainly no shortage of options. Many rivals have already met twice and are willing to participate in one more showdown.

Here is a list of five such fights the UFC can make for a trilogies only card.


#5. Cody Garbrandt vs. TJ Dillashaw - a final showdown between the former UFC champions

Cody Garbrandt and TJ Dillashaw were part of Team Alpha Male and trained at Urijah Faber’s Ultimate Fitness gym. In 2015, Dillashaw's decision to join the Elevation Fight Team did not sit well with either Garbrandt or Faber.

Things took a turn for the worse in 2016 after Garbrandt claimed he would defeat Dillashaw easily. After a bitter war of words, the pair finally met inside the octagon at UFC 217. 'No Love' had early success and almost finished off Dillshaw at the end of round one. However, Dillashaw rallied back in the second round when he clipped his rival with a massive headkick and finished him with followup punches.

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In the rematch, Dillashaw knocked out 'No Love' in the first round. While Garbrandt lost both fights, it was because he threw caution to the wind and got into wild exchanges. Garbrandt rocked Dillashaw in both bouts, but then got overzealous and finished after trying to go for the finish.

OHHHH! Dillashaw drops Garbrandt again! #UFC227 https://t.co/2uP1qCTNVz

Since then Garbrandt has hit a rough patch, losing four of his last five fights. In 2019, Dillashaw was suspended for failing a drug test. He made a triumphant return earlier this year. However, their rivalry is not over and they haven't buried the hatchet. When asked about a possible third fight, 'No Love' told DAZN News:

"I'm going to fβ€” him up... You know he was doping up 100 percent."

#4. Francis Ngannou vs. Stipe Miocic - a clash of the titans

Francis Ngannou made his UFC debut in 2015 with a knockout win over Luis Henrique. He then steamrolled through the division, finishing everyone he fought within two rounds. However, his momentum came to a halt at UFC 220, when he faced heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic. The fight was a masterclass by Miocic, who utilized his wrestling to neutralize and tire out Ngannou.

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Ngannou made the necessary adjustments and won four of his next five fights. At UFC 260, 'The Predator' proved just how much a fighter can improve. He dominated Miocic on the feet and even outwrestled him. In round two, Ngannou KO'd Miocic with a counter-left hook and became heavyweight champion.

FRANCIS NGANNOU REALLY KNOCKED OUT STIPE MIOCIC 🀯 #UFC260 @espnmma https://t.co/IXMTQBIIvu

Since his loss, Miocic has been asking for a rematch. The 39-year-old is not only a two-time champion but arguably the best heavyweight champion in UFC history. He has the most title defenses in heavyweight history, and his resume is exceptional.

A third fight would also be exciting since both competitors have convincingly beaten each other before.


#3. Max Holloway vs. Alexander Volkanovski - former champion vs. current champion

Max Holloway has fought in the UFC for almost a decade. He took the slow way to the top. Alexander Volkanovski, on the other hand, has had a rapid rise since debuting in 2016. He established himself as the top contender to Holloway's throne in just over two years.

The pair first met in 2019 at UFC 245, and in a five-round striking contest. Holloway had his moments and relied on his speed and volume. However, in all five rounds Volkanovsi outstruck the Hawaiian and landed calf kicks which slowed Holloway down. All judges saw the bout in Volkanovski's favor and he won via unanimous decision.

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At UFC 251, 'The Great' defended his featherweight title in an immediate rematch with 'Blessed'. This time, the fight was much closer and the former champ mixed in his own kicks. However, Volkanovski once again edged ahead on significant strikes and was awarded a split decision win.

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After his second loss to the Australian, 'Blessed' bounced back with a win over Calvin Kattar in January 2021. In September, Volkanovski defended his title against Brian Ortega. If Holloway beats Yair Rodriguez at UFC Vegas 42, we may get the trilogy sooner rather than later.


#2. Amanda Nunes vs. Valentina Shevchenko - the biggest fight in women's MMA history

UFC champions Amanda Nunes and Valentina Shevchenko are two of the best female mixed martial artists ever. Nunes holds both the UFC women's bantamweight and featherweight titles. Shevchenko, meanwhile, is the women's flyweight champion.

They fought for the first time at UFC 196. 'The Lioness' was in control for the majority of the fight. She dictated the pace, outstruck Shevchenko, and won via unanimous decision.

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The second fight played out differently. 'Bullet' went toe-to-toe with Nunes and found success. However, the double champ landed more shots and took the lead in the championship rounds. After a razor-close fight, 'The Lioness' won via split decision.

Amanda Nunes vs. Valentina Shevchenko 2 was razor close.Here's the 🌎 Scorecard data from the rematch three years ago today. https://t.co/N2HWLrfA4a

Since then, both champions have beaten every challenger, and have almost cleaned out their respective divisions. Back in September, in an interview with TSN, White said:

"If she [Valentina] wins and Amanda beats PeΓ±a and they're both into it, I'm interested in talking about it."

Shevchenko defeated Lauren Murphy decisively and Nunes is set to face Julianna Pena at UFC 269.


#1. Conor McGregor vs. Nate Diaz - the biggest money fight in UFC history

Conor McGregor has emerged as the biggest superstar in UFC history. He was the first athlete to hold two titles simultaneously and has sold more pay-per-views than anyone. In 2016, when McGregor was on the rise, he was called out by Nate Diaz.

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McGregor accepted the challenge and the fight was booked. At UFC 196, Nate Diaz stepped into the cage as the underdog. He weathered the early pressure from the Irishman and neutralized his striking. In round two, Nate Diaz shocked the world by submitting McGregor and pulling off the upset.

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The rematch was an all-out war. 'The Notorious' found success early and even scored three knockdowns. Diaz turned the tide in the third round and almost finished the Irishman with a flurry of strikes. However, a renergised McGregor came back in the final two rounds and won via majority decision.

The Greatest UFC fight of all-time - as voted on by YOU!πŸ† @NateDiaz209 vs @TheNotoriousMMA 2 - UFC 202 - Aug. 20, 2016 πŸ† #UFC25Years https://t.co/vjdEPwJzMY

Since then, neither has found much success inside the octagon. Earlier this year, the Irishman broke his left shin bone in a trilogy fight with Dustin Poirier. Diaz has also lost two of his last three fights. However, McGregor is recovering quickly and is hoping to make a comeback in 2022.

πŸ—“ ON THIS DAY:In 2016, @TheNotoriousMMA got his revenge as he beat Nate Diaz in an epic 5 rounder at #UFC202.."Surprise, surprise motherf*ckers, the king is back!"πŸ‘‘πŸ‘‘πŸ‘‘(via @btsportufc)https://t.co/4krgwQanfv

A third fight between these two superstars is long overdue and will certainly be a historic event. Furthermore, McGregor has already shown interest in fighting Diaz again. At the UFC 264 press conference he said:

"It's for sure gonna happen, it must happen."
Edited by Josh Evanoff

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