FanPost

The Best Rivalries in MMA History Part 3.

 

Last week I posted Part 1 and Part 2 of my piece on the Best Rivalries in MMA History. I had originally only intended for this to be a 3 part series, but upon further research and a list that kept getting bigger and bigger, I will be making it a 4 parter in order to cover the biggest rivalries in this sport.

 

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via sportsnickel.com

Georges St. Pierre vs BJ Penn

Fights: UFC 58 (Here) UFC 94 (Here)

Georges St. Pierre is the perennial white hat in the UFC. He is a marketers dream, he is a good looking, polite, controversy free dominant champion. In the lead ups to his fights, he always spouts the same things about his legacy and his wanting to go down as the best MMA fighter in the sports history. He rarely seems bothered by his opponents trash talk. Except when dealing with BJ Penn (and now, Nick Diaz).

The feud began back to UFC 58. BJ Penn was returning to the Octagon for the first time since defeating Matt Hughes and walking away from the company after UFC 46. GSP was the young up and comer trying to make another run at the championship, having defeated Jason "Mayhem" Miller, Sean Sherk and Frank Trigg since losing his first fight with Welterweight champion Matt Hughes.

The first round was all on the feet and all BJ. Winning nearly every exchange on the feet, Penn cut St. Pierre and hurt him worse than he had ever been hurt at that point in his career. At the end of the round, St. Pierre was badly cut, and obviously hurt. So much in fact, he kept trying to go to BJ's corner at the end of the round.

The second round began, and as in the majority of his fights during his career, BJ began to slow down. Georges came out refocused, and scored an early takedown, which he could not do much with. When they got back to the feet, St. Pierre started to land with more efficiently, taking advantage of a slowed BJ. They would trade against the cage towards the end of the round, and GSP would land a late takedown to apparently steal the round.

In between rounds, BJ was noticeably exhausted. This fight is a fine example of why people label BJ the best 1 round fighter in MMA history. He first round he made GSP look like he didn't belong with him. After the second round it was apparent he had let the French Canadian back into the fight.

The third began with GSP landing leg kicks that BJ looked to tired to bother checking. The would end up against the cage again, before St. Pierre dropped for a double, scooped the BJJ black belt up, and tried to drive him through the mat. BJ would end up popping back up without eating to much damage from the top.  BJ would then take GSP down, but was unable to hold him down. They would end up back against the cage, with GSP landing sharp elbows and short punches from the clinch. BJ would push forward off the cage when the clinch broke, but was taken down yet again. BJ would set up a half assed gogoplatta, but was unable to sink in the sub as the round came to a close.

GSP would take the razor close split decision that night (with the immortal Cecil Peoples being the judge that gave the fight to Penn), moving on to fight Matt Hughes for the title. This loss would stick in BJ's craw for a number of years, thinking he had done enough to win the fight.

It would be almost 3 years before they would meet again. During those three years, BJ moved back down to lightweight and became a dominant champion. After defeating Sean Sherk via a vicious KO at UFC 84, BJ famously asked the crowd in attendance if they wanted to see him rematch GSP for the welterweight title. The crowd exploded, and Dana White set up the fight for UFC 94.

For the rematch, the UFC funded their first UFC Primetime special in the leadup to the fight. During the lead up, BJ continued to spit venom at GSP, telling the camera crews that they were going to "fight to the death" and that he was going to kill St. Pierre in the Octagon. I remember when watching this series I was amazed at how much more dedicated and focused GSP seemed to be, whereas BJ was taking time off camp and didn't seem to be pushing himself like the champion was.

The second fight would begin much like the 2nd and 3rd round of the first fight, as GSP would press BJ against the cage and work for takedowns. They would spend the first part of the first round in this position, before backing off and working strikes. It is apparent early that GSP was a much better fighter since their first fight, using crisp striking to keep BJ at bay.

The second round started slowly, again with St. Pierre pushing BJ against the cage, eventually scoring a takedown. BJ would work from rubber guard, but GSP showed just how much stronger he was than Penn, landing some big elbows before standing, landing a punch and moving to side control. The fighters would remain on the ground for the 2nd round, with Georges landing excellent ground and pound on the 155 lbs champion.

Again, as typical in most BJ Penn fights, he looked exhausted in between rounds. It definitely showed, as when the fighters came out to begin the 3rd. St Pierre simply was the fresher, faster fighter, jabbing at BJ until taking him down, passing his guard and working ground and pound. The remainder of the round is classic GSP, where he simply would pin down Penn and break his will to fight.

By the time the 4th round began, the fight was essentially over. Penn looked defeated and flustered, and was constantly beaten to the punch. St Pierre would again take BJ down and simply dominate him on the ground, passing BJ's guard like butter (or perhaps some sort of grease?) at will and landing big ground and pound.

The beating was so one sided, BJ couldn't come out to start the 5th, awarding the victory to St.Pierre. But this would not put an end to the rivalry. After the fight was done, BJ would go on to accuse GSP of greasing his body in between rounds, as well as using steroids. Penn even went as far as bringing his mother to a NSAC meeting in attempts to have St.Pierre punished for the apparent greasing.

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via combatsoup.com

Randy Couture vs Chuck Liddell

Fights: UFC 43 (No video)  UFC 52 (Here)  UFC 57 (Here)

Perhaps the most famous trilogy in MMA history, Couture vs Liddell was another series of fights that helped to propel the UFC into the North American sports limelight. Not one of these fights ever made it to a decision, and when it was all said and done, these two UFC Hall of Famers put on almost 6 rounds of pure MMA action.

Chuck Liddell and Randy Couture would first meet at UFC 43 back in June of 2003. At the time, Tito Ortiz was the Light Heavyweight champion in the UFC, having defended it 5 times. Chuck Liddell was considered the number 1 contender for the title after he had defeated Brazilian striker Vitor Belfort at UFC 37.5, but Tito had a different idea. Tito instead decided to take a fight against Ken Shamrock, citing that Liddell was a "friend" and that they had an agreement to never fight. Further muddying the waters, after his victory over Shamrock, Ortiz became embroiled in a contract dispute with Dana White and Zuffa, along with flat out refusing to fight Chuck. In order to work around their temperamental champion, Joe Silva and Dana White set up an interim title fight between Chuck and Randy for the UFC Light Heavyweight championship.

Many thought that the first fight would be a mismatch. Randy Couture was fresh off of back to back loses to Josh Barnett and Ricco Rodriguez and at 38 years old, was considered done as a fighter. Chuck meanwhile was riding a 10 fight winning streak, which included victories over Jeff Monson, Kevin Randleman, Murilo Bustamante, Vitor Belfort and Ronato Sobral. No one gave Randy a chance to win this fight.

But, as was a theme in Couture's career, he would prove analysts and fans alike wrong. During the two and a half rounds of fighting, Couture would frustrate Chuck, using straight punches to neutralize the California based fighters legendary looping hooks. Randy would also use his strikes to set up takedowns, which was big considering how tough Chuck was to take to the mat due to his excellent sprawl. Eventually Randy would get into a mounted position on Liddell, and would pound him out using ground and pound. With the win, Couture not only revitalized his career, but he would become the first mixed martial artist to hold two titles in two different weight classes.

They would eventually meet again at UFC 52 in April of 2005. Randy had unified the title after defeating Tito Ortiz at UFC 44, and had lost then regained the championship against Vitor Belfort (losing a fight due to a cut then winning the immediate rematch) and Chuck came into the fight with victories over Tito Ortiz and Vernon "Tiger" White to become the de facto number 1 contender. In order to help hype up the upcoming fight, Liddell and Couture were named the inaugural coaches for the UFC and Spike's first season of The Ultimate Fighter. Based on the success of the show (and the super success of the TUF 1 finale that happened 1 week prior to their fight) this helped make their fight at UFC 52 the biggest UFC event up until that point.

The fight would begin with both men feeling each other out, neither wanting to make a mistake that could cost them the fight. Chuck was much more patient, learning his lesson from the first fight when Randy had outstruck him. They would trade a couple of single shots, until they clinched against the fence where Randy landed a couple of punches in the clinch. As they broke apart, Randy took a finger to the eye, which caused a pause in the fight. The doctor would come in to check it, but Randy was fine.

They would come back out after the break and begin throwing right away. Randy landed what appeared to be a nice right hand, which caused Chuck to circle out and back towards the cage. Couture would follow him, throwing a number of punches and trying to swarm Liddell. Using brilliant footwork against the cage, Chuck would slide out to his right and land a huge right hand, dropping Couture. Liddell would swarm, and finished the fight via TKO to finally become the UFC Light Heavyweight champion.

The second fight was a big one in the history of MMA, as it provided more exposure to the sport than perhaps any time in the past. New fans and old alike were clamoring for the two to meet again to finish the trilogy. Fans would get their wish after Couture defeated Mike Van Arsdale and Chuck defended the title against Jeremy Horn.

In February of 2006, "the one we have waited all our lives for" (God I hate you so much Goldie) happened at UFC 57. Again shattering the previous PPV buyrate for a UFC event (400,000 buys), fans would not be disappointed.

The first round was mostly a long feeling out period, as both men did not want to over commit and be the first to make a mistake. Chuck found some early success using his long jab to keep Randy on the outside and used his fantastic footwork to make sure Randy couldn't effectively cut off the cage. With a little over a minute left in the round, Randy began landing effective combinations, which seemed to fire Chuck up. They traded punches until Randy was able to close the distance and grab Chuck in a clinch. This wouldn't work in Captain America's favor, as Chuck landed a nice uppercut which snapped his head back. They would separate, and Randy would end up scoring a double leg that Chuck would bounce right back up from. Even when Chuck got up, Randy was hanging onto him for dear life, The remainder of the round would be Randy looking to score an unsuccessful takedown.

The second round would again start slowly, with each fighter looking for their openings and landing single punches. Suddenly without warning, Chuck would land a counter right hand that would cut The Natural's strings, sending him crumpling to the mat. Chuck would land some devastating ground and pound to finish the fight.

In the post fight interview, Couture would announce his (short lived) retirement from MMA. But their historic trilogy helped propel the UFC to the heights it is today.

 

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via cdn0.sbnation.com

Georges St. Pierre vs Matt Hughes

Fights: UFC 50 (Here) UFC 65 (Here) UFC 79 (Here)

Two of the greatest welterweights in the history of the sport met three times between October 2004 and December of 2007. They would never disappoint, as all three fights were entertaining affairs.

They would first meet at UFC 50 in Oct of 2004. The fight would be for the vacant Welterweight title (left vacant after BJ Penn defeated Hughes and then left the UFC) and was seen as the future of the division (GSP) versus the best welterweight to ever have lived (Hughes). St. Pierre looked visibly nervous during the pre fight intros and wouldn't even look Hughes in the eyes when Big John McCarthy was providing instructions.

The fight would begin in what we have come to expect from GSP, in other words, he landed a strike, then took Hughes down to the floor. Unfortunately for the French Canadian, Hughes would get up with relative ease without sustaining any damage. They would circle for a few moments, before Hughes shot in for a double against the cage. While GSP was able to defend for a moment, Hughes would slam St. Pierre to the mat. GSP would attempt for a kimura but otherwise there was little action on the ground before Georges was able to pop back up.

On the standup, St. Pierre was able to land a nice spinning back kick to Hughes' solar plexus, and followed up by sprawling nicely on a double leg attempt. But, Hughes was relentless with his takedown attempts, eventually scoring another double leg against the fence and dragging GSP to the mat. He would work some punches from St. Pierre's guard, and then suddenly, as the 1st round began to come to a close, St.Pierre attempted a kimura from the half guard, and Hughes quickly stepped over and locked in an armbar, forcing GSP to tap with 1 second left in the first round. Hughes would regain his Welterweight title he had lost to BJ Penn, and the 23 year old GSP would be sent back to the drawing board.

Fast forward two years later to UFC 65. Hughes had just defeated BJ Penn in his 3rd title defense since defeating GSP (he was on a 5 fight winning streak, but fights against Joe Riggs and Royce Gracie were non-title fights). GSP meanwhile had gone on a run of his own since his defeat to Hughes, also winning his last 5 fights.

Right from the jump it was more apparent that GSP was less nervous the second time around than he was the first. He stared right through Hughes during the pre fight instructions from Big John, unlike his first fight with the dominant champion.

It only took 20 seconds for the crowd to begin cheering "USA USA" as the fighters circled and looked for angles. St. Pierre would win the early striking exchanges behind a stiff jab and utilizing good leg kicks. Neither fighter looks to take it to the ground, as they appear content to turn it into a kickboxing match. Halfway through the 1st round, St. Pierre caught Hughes with a dick kick, causing a halt in the action. After a moments rest, they come back together, and GSP dick kicks him yet again. Neither of the groin strikes were intentional, but that is definitely one way to slow down your opponent.

Matt only takes a moment to recover, and the fighters again meet in the center of the Octagon. St. Pierre would pick up where he left off, landing a stiff jab at will and eventually catching a Hughes kick, landed a good right hand and then immediately took the champion to the ground. He would work some GnP, until Hughes managed to scramble back to his feet. As the round came to a close, St. Pierre landed a huge Superman punch followed by a combination that rocked the champion, who was then saved by the bell.

The second round would continue with what happened in the 1st, with GSP just showing superior striking ability and footwork to confound the champion. He continually landed the stiff left jab at will, and was obviously starting to frustrate Hughes. Just over a minute into the 2nd, GSP would land a left head kick, which knocked Hughes down. St. Pierre would follow him to the ground and finish him off with punches and elbows to the head to win his first UFC Welterweight championship.

They would meet for a final time at UFC 73 in late December of 2007. GSP had been upset in his first title defense against Matt Serra, and was on the road back to the title after defeating Josh Koscheck in his previous fight.  Hughes had defeated Chris Lytle in the meantime, and with Matt Serra being on the shelf with what one can only assume was a pasta related injury, the rubber match was made with the interim Welterweight title on the line.

The third fight would begin with each fighter being tentative, neither wanting to make the first wrong move. Hughes would try for a couple of shots from outside, which were easily defended by GSP. After a couple of minutes of shadowboxing, GSP was able to score a takedown and would work from top control and nullifying Hughes ability to get back up. In what is now a typical GSP fight, he would hold Hughes down and land occasional punches until taking full mount. Hughes would hold on tight and not allow St. Pierre to posture up until the dying seconds of the round.

The second round would again begin just as the first had ended, with St. Pierre scoring another early takedown on the former division kingpin. GSP would continue to keep Hughes on the floor, working some ground and pound and trying to soften Hughes up. Georges would methodically work, until eventually passing again to full mount, this time with 2 minutes left in the round. Moving to take Hughes' back, St. Pierre attempted a rear naked choke, until Matt was able to turn in his guard and tried to work back to his feet. But GSP was too strong, simply muscling Hughes against the cage and landing a couple of knees to the chest. Hughes would eventually get up, and pressed GSP against the cage looking for a double leg. St. Pierre would shrug off the attempt, and in the clinch, hit Hughes with a great Judo throw, landing in side control. GSP would then work for an arm, eventually stepping over Hughes' head and locking in an armbar, submitting the Illinois native and putting an end to their trilogy and rivalry. St. Pierre would go on to become one of the best mixed martial artists of all time, and this loss essentially put an end to Hughes' days as a champion level fighter.

 

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via pics.lesnar-brock.com

Brock Lesnar vs Frank Mir

Fights: UFC 81 (Here) UFC 100 (Here)

In the recent history of MMA, few fighters hate each other as much as Brock Lesnar and Frank Mir did at the height of their rivalry. It would all begin at UFC 81, in Lesnar's Octagon debut.

When they met in the co-main event of UFC 81, Frank Mir was at a crux in his career. The former Heavyweight champion had 4 fights in the Octagon since he had suffered serious injuries in a motor cycle accident, causing him to have to relinquish his belt and take almost a year and a half off to recuperate. Upon his return, he just did not look like the same fighter who had broken Tim Sylvia's arm at UFC 48. In his 4 fights since his return, he had gone 2-2, losing to Brandon Vera and Marcio Cruz. Brock meanwhile was coming off his first MMA victory over Min-Soo Kim in the K-1 Hero's organization, and already had a big fanbase behind him due to his career as a professional wrestler. Some pundits seemed to believe that they were feeding Mir to the wolves, in hopes of a Lesnar win over a former UFC champion could help fast track the mammoth heavyweight to title contention, and not have him fall under the dreaded "freak show" moniker.

The fight would begin, and Lesnar would immediately score a takedown on Mir, landing in side control where he would work some punches. Mir would turtle a bit, and look for a sweep, but Brock kept raining down punches. Suddenly, without warning, the red headed step child of referees Steve Mazzagatti, stepped in and immediately took a point from Lesnar for strikes to the back of the head. Mind you, this is part of the rules, but typically a ref will give you a warning or two prior to taking a point away.

Regardless, Mazzagatti restarted the fight (on their feet, despite Brock having side control) and Brock landed a hard right hand, which dropped Mir again. Lesnar pounced, landing some more ground and pound on the former champion. He landed a number of unanswered shots, as Mir desperately attempted to grab a limb to work for a submission. Lesnar would eventually stand back up, and in a matter of his own doing, allowed Mir to wrap one leg around his right leg. Mir, the BJJ blackbelt would lock in a kneebar, bringing the former NCAA champion down and forcing a tap out.

It would be a year and a half later before they would meet again at UFC 100. Lesnar had defeated Heath Herring, and then beat returning heavyweight champion Randy Couture to earn one piece of the title. Meanwhile, Mir and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira had met at UFC 92 for the interim Heavyweight championship, where Mir would be the first man to finish Big Nog. The hype leading up to the historic fight was intense, with Mir constantly referring to his technical superiority to Brock, and poking fun at the big heavyweights' professional wrestling past.

"He is not going to go out there and throw a teep kick, or a round house, or a jab-hook and slip out to the side. He is not going to pass my guard with a butt flop, and sit over to the mount, and hit a kimura and switch over to North/South choke......I'll tell you what those are later Brock, in case you were confused. I am working on the intricacies of maneuvers that he still doesn't know the names of" - Frank Mir, UFC 100 Countdown show.

Brock obviously did not take kindly to these comments, and would show as much in the Octagon.

They would spend the first 30 seconds of the 1st round feeling each other out, until Brock scored a takedown in a scramble. Brock would do a good job at staying tight on Mir, not allowing the BJJ blackbelt any space to try and grab a limb, or hit a sweep. Lesnar then, from half guard, would trap Mir's head with his left arm, bringing his head to his right. While doing that, he would then land some huge lunchbox sized fists into Mir's face. Literally it was as close to a schoolyard bullying fans had ever seen in MMA. Lesnar would not allow Mir to move, holding him down and landing shot after shot. At the end of the round, when Mir got up, his face was a swollen mess, where Lesnar looked exactly like he did before the fight even started.

The second round would begin, and Lesnar would hit Mir with another heavy right hand, knocking him down. Instead of following him haphazardly to the ground, Lesnar allowed him to stand back up. Mir would get back up, and back Brock up into the cage. He would clinch with the former WWE superstar, and landed a nice elbow. Brock would end up grabbing a leg, and in perhaps the biggest mistake he could make, Mir tried to land a huge knee with his free leg. It didn't hit clean, and Mir ended up on his back, close to the cage, with a 300 pound vanilla gorilla on top of him. This would essentially be the beginning of the end for Mir, as Lesnar would work from half guard into the same position he was in the 1st round and landed huge punches on him. Mir would try to sweep, but in doing so left his face wide open. Lesnar would land 16 unanswered punches and leave Mir in a twisted mess.

There have been many rumors over the last number of years of a third matchup between these two. Mir became obsessed with Brock, even going as far as putting on 20 lbs of muscle in hopes of being able to compete with the huge heavyweights like Brock and Shane Carwin. But, with Brock's battle with diverticulitis, and Mir's inability to get back to a title shot, these plans have been put on the backburner. But, with both men being atop the heavyweight division, one thinks it is only a matter of time before Joe Silva puts these two back together in the Octagon.

 

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via mmafix.com

KJ Noons vs Nick Diaz

Fights: Elite XC: Renegade (Here) Strikeforce: Diaz vs Noons 2 (Here)

Lets be honest, I could have put "Nick Diaz vs The World" in here and it would have probably been generally accepted. But, despite Diaz' hate for seemingly everyone who is not in his camp, this one stands out a bit more than others.

These two first met back in November of 2007. Diaz was 1 fight removed from his shocking upset victory over then top 3 lightweight Takanori Gomi. Noons meanwhile was 1-1 in his Elite XC career, but was matched up with Diaz anyway for the promotions 160 lbs title.

Diaz would start the fight trying to get a single leg takedown, that was defended by Noons. As with a typical Nick Diaz fight, the pace is fast paced, but Noons gets the better of most of the exchanges, landing heavy counter punches whenever Diaz would throw. As the first round progressed, it was a steady diet of getting his takedowns stuffed and getting beaten to the punch for Nick Diaz, until he was finally able to pull Noons down to the floor.

Unfortunately for Diaz, when he attempted to move from half guard into full mount, Noons was able to scramble to his feet. Once he was back on his feet, the ref called for time to have the doctors inspect a cut over Diaz' right eye. After a moment to clean the cut, the doctors gave the ok and the ref resumed the fight. Shortly after the restart, Noons cracked Diaz with a straight right that was felt all the way to the 209, dropping the Cesar Gracie product on his ass. But, as anyone who has seen Nick fight can attest, they know he is impossible to finish. Noons did not want to follow Nick to the ground, due to his own limited grappling skills, so in response Nick began to butt scoot after 

Diaz soon regained his feet, and his eye was a mess. But, it seemed like getting clipped got Diaz loose, as he began landing some combinations on Noons as KJ was content to wing looping hooks, looking for the KO. The round would end with Nick again trying a double leg, which was again unsuccessful.

In between rounds, you could see how badly Nick was cut right under his left eyebrow. During the examination, the doctor decided that Diaz couldn't go on, and declared the fight over. Diaz was not happy with this result, and jumped off his stool in protest, flipping off Noons and his corner as they celebrated. He would then leave the cage, flipping the crowd and the cage off Stone Cold Steve Austin style.

Noons would defend his title 7 months later against Yves Edwards, and Diaz would get into the ring after the fight. With former professional wrestler Bill Goldberg between them, Noons asked the fans if they thought Diaz deserved a rematch. Goldberg told Diaz he could say one thing, and Diaz dropped the now classic "Don't be scared homie".

Noons' corner did not apparently enjoy this, as they got up in the Diaz' brothers faces and set off a mini brawl, that would end with the Diaz brothers standing on the entrance ramp flipping off everyone in the cage.

The controversy between these two continued, when Noons was stripped of his title for refusing to defend it against against Diaz. Within months Elite XC was done, and they would never meet under the same banner.

3 years would pass before a rematch was finally made between these two under the Strikeforce banner. In the 3 years since their first fight, Diaz would go on a 7 fight win streak (with notable wins over Frank Shamrock, Scott Smith and Hayato Sakurai), and also had surgery done to remove scar tissue around his face so that he wouldn't cut so easily. Noons meanwhile had left MMA all together for 2 years to focus on his boxing career. Since his return to MMA, he defeated Connor Heun and MMA vet Jorge Gurgel before signing on to move up to 170lbs to rematch Diaz.

The fight would begin, and Diaz would immediately open up with a leg kick, wanting to take away the front leg of Noons early and apparently force him to switch stances. It is apparent from watching the first fight, then the second, how much sharper Diaz' boxing had become. He would prove it to Noons as well, clipping him with a right hand about a minute and a half into the round that scrambled Noons' brains a little bit, allowing Nick to put KJ on his back and take side control. Most believed if it hit the floor, Diaz would dominate, but KJ did a good job of preventing Diaz to advance to mount, and eventually hip out to get back to his feet.

Back on the feet, Diaz would continue to use his jab and Diaz style boxing to land punches on Noons'.  It clearly began to frustrate the former pro boxer, as he continued to fire of looping power punches, trying to take Nick's head clean off. Nick did a great job of slipping punches and effectively landing as the round ended.

The second round would begin with Diaz throwing some half hearted kicks, before Noons hit him with a two crisp two punch combo. The two punch combo opened a cut over Diaz' eye again, but didn't seem to faze the man from Stockton, as he continued to hang his hands low, baiting Noons. But, Noons seemed much calmer in the second round, doing a good job at being relatively patient and landing good counters on Diaz. Throughout the first half of the round, Noons did a great job of changing levels and really frustrating Diaz. He would continue to do that throughout the entire second round, even landing a couple of nice knees to the body just to mix things up

Diaz would start the 3rd trying for a double leg takedown that was unsuccessful. They would stand in the middle of the cage, and Diaz again began to find his rhythm, working off his straight left jab and trying to keep Noons on the outside. Diaz would find much more success in the 3rd, working solid combos and landing at a much more successful rate than Noons. Noons would continue to work the body in hopes of slowing down the cardio machine known as Nick Diaz.

The 4th round began very slow, as Diaz continues to be fairly methodical with his strikes (though he does throw a lot of lazy kicks). As they went later into the round, Diaz continued to land at a fantastic pace. Noons continued to throw a lot of punches that weren't landing, as he seemed to have trouble finding his range. Late in the round, Diaz managed to get a Thai clinch on Noons and landed a hard knee to the head, and followed it up with a sharp left hand that seemed to have hurt the former Elite XC champion.

The 5th round was more of the same, with Noons seemingly slowing down, and not fighting with much urgency, whereas Nick continued to land multiple shots to the head and body. It just seemed like KJ had anything to offer or threaten the Strikeforce champion. Diaz even went as far as to try to land a spinning back kick to mix things up. Both men would slug til the end of the bell, but the fight would go to the judges.

Diaz would end up taking an unanimous decision over Noons in what truly was a firefight. The likelihood of these two meeting again for a rubber match are unlikely, as Nick is now in the UFC, and Noons recently dropped a loss at 155 to upcoming Strikeforce Lightweight Championship contender Jorge Masvidal. Even if Noons were to come over to the UFC, he is a natural 155 pounder and I can't see any reason why Dana would ask him to move back up to WW.

 

Tune in soon for the 4th and final installment very shorty.

\The FanPosts are solely the subjective opinions of Bloody Elbow readers and do not necessarily reflect the views of Bloody Elbow editors or staff.

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