Rivalries in the UFC can turn popular fighters into superstars in the sport. The likes of Chael Sonnen vs. Anderson Silva and Conor McGregor vs. Nate Diaz boosted each fighter involved to a whole new level of popularity. For this to happen, a number of fights between the same opponents is what one would typically expect.
These situations typically lead to the rematch being even bigger than the first bout. Other times, two prospects meet early in their careers and then go on to become big stars. When they meet again after some time, the rematch is inevitably bigger as the fighters have gained populartity and there is naturally more attention.
Here are five UFC rematches that would be much bigger the second time around.
#5. Dustin Poirier vs. Justin Gaethje - UFC lightweight division
Justin Gaethje came up short in his second title fight recently when he was submitted in the first round by Charles Oliveira. He was previously submitted by Khabib Nurmagomedov. Another man who has lost both his title fights against the same competitors is Dustin Poirier. Perhaps now is the time for these two to square off once again.
The first fight between the pair was a barnstormer that ultimately saw Poirier finish Gaethje back in 2018. However, at that point we had no idea how good either fighter was. The loss left Gaethje 1-2 in his UFC career, while Poirier also hadn't picked up the big wins he's known for today.
A rematch between the pair would be a much bigger deal this time around. Both fighters have established themselves as top five lightweights in the promotion and are much bigger stars than they were in 2018. With both men in need of a new challenge, perhaps this fight could be made sooner rather than later.
#4. Kamaru Usman vs. Leon Edwards - UFC welterweight division
The UFC has made it clear that this is the fight they'd like to make for Kamaru Usman's next title defense. Leon Edwards has put on a lengthy winning streak, dating all the way back to his last fight with Usman and has established himself as the top contender in the division.
Their first encounter was early in both fighters' careers and, in truth, did not produce the most entertaining bout. However, both men have progressed hugely since then and a battle between the top welterweights in the division would be a highly anticipated matchup.
This one would rank higher if it weren't for the fact that most MMA analysts are anticipating that the rematch will likely produce a similar fight to the first. However, if Edwards is able to avoid being smothered by Usman's wrestling, he'd have the advantage in a stand-up battle.
#3. Marlon Vera vs. Sean O'Malley II
Sean O'Malley has already been a big draw in the UFC for some time. The one loss he has suffered came at the hands of Marlon 'Chito' Vera, so naturally there would be significant interest in a rematch. On top of that, both men have improved significantly and become top contenders in the bantamweight division.
O'Malley has not lost since this defeat and has produced three bonus-winning finishes since that bout. Vera did suffer a loss to Jose Aldo but has now also put together a streak of three bonus-winning victories that have led to him entering the top 5 at bantamweight.
While this fight is likely not the next step for each competitor, a rematch at some point down the line does seem likely. The first bout between the pair did have a fair amount of hype, but both men have gotten better and become more popular since. A rematch would now be substantially bigger than their first encounter.
#2. Carla Esparza vs. Joanna Jedrzejczyk - UFC women's strawweight division
These two female athletes fought for the UFC women's strawweight title back in March 2015. On that day, Carla Esparza came into the bout having just defeated Rose Namajunas to win the gold. However, Joanna Jedrzejczyk defeated her to become the new champion. Could history now be repeating itself?
Esparza recently defeated Namajunas for a second time to begin a second stint as the strawweight champion. Should Jedrzejczyk defeat Weili Zhang on June 11, she would become the No.1-contender to challenge for the title. Given all that's happened since their first fight, a rematch would inevitably be a bigger deal.
Since 2015, Jedrzejczyk became the longest-reigning champion in the division's history, and more recently, took part in the best women's MMA fight ever. Esparza has fought 12 times in the meantime and is now back atop the division. There is now a good chance we could get a highly anticipated rematch before too long.
#1. Conor McGregor vs. Max Holloway - UFC lightweight division
Few would have known when these men first fought back in August 2013, that they would go on to become two of the biggest stars the sport of MMA has ever seen. Both Conor McGregor and Max Holloway would go on to win the UFC featherweight championship, with the Irishman also winning the lightweight title.
In their first fight, McGregor had a promotional record of 1-0 and Holloway's octagon record was 3-2. Those records now stand at 10-4 and 19-6 respectively, with both men taking on some of the biggest names in the sport. They are now true megastars in the sport and a rematch would be truly monumental.
This is a fight that wouldn't require a title on the line and it would still likely be the biggest PPV the UFC can put on that year. It is now a dream fight for MMA fans despite their first encounter flying somewhat under the radar. With both fighters being so popular, a rematch could well happen before the end of their careers.
Poll : Which fight is more likely to happen?
McGregor vs. Holloway II
Esparza vs. Jedrzejczyk II