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5 UFC rivalries that are yet to be settled inside the Octagon

The UFC has not yet managed to settle the rivalry between Jorge Masvidal and Colby Covington.
The UFC has not yet managed to settle the rivalry between Jorge Masvidal and Colby Covington.
Scott Newman
SENIOR ANALYST
Modified 14 Apr 2021
Top 5 / Top 10

From Ken Shamrock vs. Tito Ortiz to Conor McGregor vs. Khabib Nurmagomedov, the UFC’s Octagon has always been the perfect location for ending a big rivalry.

Of course, there have been a number of UFC rivalries – some still ongoing – that haven’t been able to end in the Octagon just yet.

Hopefully, these rivalries can come to a head in the near future, but as always, with the UFC, nothing is for sure.

With that in mind, here are five UFC rivalries that are yet to be settled inside the Octagon.


#1 Jorge Masvidal vs. Colby Covington

Jorge Masvidal and Colby Covington were once friends and teammates at American Top Team.
Jorge Masvidal and Colby Covington were once friends and teammates at American Top Team.

Former teammates at American Top Team, Colby Covington and Jorge Masvidal trained together and even lived together at one stage during their rise through the ranks in the UFC.

However, the relationship between the two turned sour in 2019. Covington claimed that Masvidal had become jealous of his success, while Gamebred fired back by accusing Covington of failing to pay one of his coaches.

Eventually, Chaos ended up leaving American Top Team entirely due to the issue – which ATT founder Dan Lambert had attempted to solve by banning trash talk between teammates.

Despite this feud being simply ready-made for the Octagon, though, the UFC still haven’t been able to put together a fight between the two.

That feels strange, particularly because reports at the start of 2021 suggested the promotion were looking to book the fight. Dana White even stated that he didn’t believe rumors that Masvidal was avoiding Covington due to his fighting style.

With Masvidal now looking to dethrone UFC Welterweight champion, Kamaru Usman, in his next fight, it’s unlikely that we’ll see him fight Covington in the next few months at least.

But win or lose, this fight is surely one that the UFC will look to put together in the future, allowing the two men to finally settle their rivalry.


#2 Jon Jones vs. Israel Adesanya

It now feels unlikely that we
It now feels unlikely that we'll see a fight between Israel Adesanya and Jon Jones, leaving their rivalry unsettled.

We’ve seen a number of UFC rivalries fail to reach the Octagon over the years due to the fighters involved fighting in different weight classes.

And right now, Jon Jones vs. Israel Adesanya may well end up joining that list of rivalries that were never truly settled.

The issue between the two men started back in 2019, when the two men began to insult one another despite The Last Stylebender fighting at Middleweight, 20lbs lower than Jones’ usual weight of 205lbs.

And when Adesanya won the UFC Middleweight title towards the back end of that year, the hype for a fight between him and Jones only intensified.

Bones vacated his UFC Light Heavyweight title in mid-2020 and stated his intention to move up to Heavyweight. But even that didn’t put Adesanya off a potential fight with the larger man.

After his win over Paulo Costa at UFC 253, The Last Stylebender stated that he “just wanted to f**k up Jon Jones and still will,” to which Jones replied, stating that if he were to face Adesanya, he’d tear one of his arms off.

This rivalry may well have been part of the reason why the UFC were so willing to allow Adesanya to move up to 205lbs to challenge new champ Jan Blachowicz at UFC 259.

However, since Adesanya’s loss to the Polish fighter, any possibility of this rivalry being settled in the Octagon seems to have gone down the drain. Jones has basically suggested he’s no longer interested – meaning another Twitter spat is probably the best we’ll get.


#3 Conor McGregor vs. Tony Ferguson

Tony Ferguson was never able to settle his rivalry with Conor McGregor inside the UFC
Tony Ferguson was never able to settle his rivalry with Conor McGregor inside the UFC's Octagon.

Over the years, we’ve missed out on plenty of cool-sounding fights in the UFC involving Conor McGregor, but one really big one that instantly comes to mind is a fight with Tony Ferguson.

Back in 2017, the two men appeared to be on a collision course.

Then the UFC Lightweight champ McGregor was looking to return to the UFC following his boxing match with Floyd Mayweather. And after he claimed the interim Lightweight title with a win over Kevin Lee, Ferguson seemed like the Irishman's obvious opponent.

El Cucuy even started somewhat of a campaign online for the fight, constantly telling McGregor to “defend or vacate.”

However, despite Ferguson being on a lengthy win streak and insulting him at every turn, McGregor simply didn’t seem all that interested in a fight with the interim champ.

Instead, he focused his energy on another rivalry – with Khabib Nurmagomedov. And when Ferguson was forced out of a fight with the Russian for the title finally vacated by McGregor, the UFC turned its focus to McGregor vs. Nurmagomedov, too.

A fight between Ferguson and McGregor never ended up happening. And given both men's trajectories in the years that have followed, this rivalry will probably never be settled, either.


#4 Jon Jones vs. Jan Blachowicz

Jon Jones didn
Jon Jones didn't seem interested in fighting Jan Blachowicz despite the rivalry between the two.

When Jan Blachowicz began to call out Jon Jones for a fight for the UFC Light Heavyweight title after his win over Corey Anderson, it felt like a natural fight to book.

Blachowicz was on a lengthy winning streak and had also beaten Luke Rockhold and Jacare Souza. Jones, meanwhile, was fresh off his latest title defense – a win over Dominick Reyes – and seemed out of fresh contenders.

However, despite Jones appearing to be up for the fight at the time – applauding Blachowicz from the crowd as the Pole made his call-out – it quickly became clear that he had other ideas.

And so, instead of defending his title against Blachowicz, Jones got into a public spat with the UFC regarding his pay.

Even when this issue appeared to be sorted, Bones chose to vacate his Light Heavyweight crown in order to pursue a career at Heavyweight – leaving Blachowicz to defeat Reyes for the gold instead.

Blachowicz has since defeated another potential Jones opponent in the form of Israel Adesanya and has now established himself as a high-level star in the UFC.

However, even this doesn’t seem to make his rivalry with Jones any more likely to be settled inside the Octagon.


#5 Dustin Poirier vs. Nate Diaz

Nate Diaz has yet to fight Dustin Poirier despite their surprisingly respectful rivalry.
Nate Diaz has yet to fight Dustin Poirier despite their surprisingly respectful rivalry.

Nate Diaz is one of those fighters who is often called out by a number of potential foes, not only because he’s one of the UFC’s biggest drawing cards, but for some reason, he also seems beatable to them.

However, most of the fighters who challenge Diaz don’t even warrant a response from the Stockton-based fighter, who prefers to pick and choose his opponents to maximize his financial return.

One potential opponent who seemingly did interest Diaz, however, was Dustin Poirier.

The two men were initially set to face off in 2018 in a fight that fell through but have continued to express their interest in the fight since.

This February saw Diaz suggest that he’d happily fight Poirier, albeit only at 170lbs – and The Diamond seemed happy to oblige, stating that 170lbs was closer to his natural weight anyway.

However, as of the time of writing, the UFC have not looked to book the fight. Instead, Diaz is set to face Leon Edwards next, while Poirier will face Conor McGregor again.

But given the star power of both men, it’s surely likely that in the near future, the UFC will look to have them settle their surprisingly respectful rivalry inside the Octagon.

Published 14 Apr 2021
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