To sell a fight, promotions look to utilize a rivalry between fighters to put people in the seats. Whether the build up is through intense trash-talk and follow up altercations, or two highly skilled fighters working their way up the rankings, fans clamor to see fights with additional magnitude.
Oscar De La Hoya's Golden Boy Promotions is looking to enter the mixed martial arts fold scheduling a trilogy bout between heated rivals and former
UFC champions Tito Ortiz and Chuck Liddell. Promotional opportunities, interviews and press conferences feature the MMA legends trashing each other at every opportunity no matter if they are true to their feelings or selling the fight.
We list five other possible rubber matches and trilogy fights that fans want to see happen.
Conor McGregor vs. Nate Diaz
Until UFC 229 in October 2018, Conor McGregor and Nate Diaz headlined the two highest-selling UFC PPVs of all time.
Both fights had intense lead ups, with trash talking throughout fight weeks, media days and press conferences.
Fresh off his featherweight title victory over Jose Aldo, Conor McGregor was attempting to become the first fighter in UFC history to hold two titles simultaneously by taking on Rafael Dos Anjos at UFC 196. Dos Anjos would end up withdrawing from the bout due to a foot injury.
Aldo and Frankie Edgar both declined stepping in as replacement fighters due to time constraints and injuries. Eventually Nate Diaz would get the call on 11 days notice to step in to face McGregor at the welterweight limit as a +300 underdog.
Diaz would be battered throughout the first round, but would come back in the second. Diaz would eventually land combinations to a gassed out McGregor. McGregor would attempt a desperate takedown, which Diaz would reverse. Diaz would take the back of McGregor, sink in the rear-naked choke and get the tap.
The rematch would be scheduled for UFC 200, then pushed back to UFC 202 after disagreements between McGregor and UFC.
McGregor would win a close back-and-forth fight with Diaz by majority decision.
With the record sales being set twice by McGregor-Diaz, UFC would love to host another bout between the two competitors and fans would definitely buy in.
Michael Chandler vs. Eddie Alvarez
Eddie Alvarez was one of the most notable fighters to come out of Bellator, fighting from it's inaugural event to winning a title, headlining events all the way to his exit from the promotion.
Michael Chandler burst on to the MMA scene as a notable name after winning the Bellator lightweight tournament, to earn a shot at Alvarez's title at the end of 2011. Chandler received his chance at Bellator 58.
Chandler stunned the MMA world after dropping and stunning Alvarez in the first in second rounds. Alvarez would valiantly fight back in the third, but succumb to Chandler in the fourth after Chandler would drop Alvarez with punches and sink in a rear-naked choke for the victory.
After a lengthy contract dispute and concurrent lawsuits, Alvarez would re-sign with Bellator and take on Chandler at Bellator 106. Alvarez would reclaim the title by close split decision.
Alvarez and Chandler were expected to meet in a rubber match at Bellator 120, however Alvarez would withdraw due to a concussion, and would be released from his Bellator contract to join the UFC.
There was heavy consideration for this rubber match to happen as recently of 2018 when Alvarez finished with his UFC contract around the same time that Chandler's contract was complete with Bellator. Alvarez ultimately chose to sign with ONE Championship, while Chandler decided to re-up with Bellator.
Hopefully, we will get to see the two top lightweights battle one more time.
Canelo Alvarez vs. Gennady Golovkin
When it comes to boxing, we are lucky when we have two of the greatest fighters in their respective divisions meet in their primes. We are even more fortunate when it happens twice within a year.
Canelo Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin were first scheduled to meet for the WBC/WBA/IBF/IBO middleweight title in September 2017. Canelo received a rematch clause in his contract which would schedule an immediate rematch if he lost. Golovkin was not given the stipulation in his own deal.
In what was declared a close split draw, the scores read 115-113 for Golovkin, 114-114, and a controversial scorecard of 118-110 for Canelo from Adelaide Byrd.
Golovkin felt he was wronged on the scorecards and stated, "It was a big drama show. [The scoring] is not my fault. I put pressure on him every round. Look, I still have all the belts. I am still the champion."
Canelo explained that he felt he won the bout stating, "I won at least seven or eight rounds. I was able to counterpunch and made Gennady wobble at least three times. If we fight again, it's up to the people."
A rematch between Canelo and Golovkin was scheduled for May 2018. Unfortunately, Canelo failed two pre-fight drug test and was suspended by Nevada State Athletic Commission. The rematch would be rescheduled to September 2018.
In a close fight, Canelo won a majority decision over Golovkin by scores of 115-113, 115-113 and 114-114.
Ultimately, both fights for Canelo-GGG drew over $50 million gate from 33,000 tickets sold, and over 2.4 million domestic pay-per-view buys.
With both fights being extremely close and, to the fans, having controversial scoring, a third bout between Canelo and Golovkin would be a fight that people would anticipate.
Demetrious Johnson vs. Henry Cejudo
In the most recent of the fights on this list, former long-time UFC flyweight champion and former pound-for-pound king Demetrious "Mighty Mouse" Johnson and current champ Henry Cejudo have split a pair of title bouts.
Johnson first met the 2008 Olympic gold medalist in Mighty Mouse's eighth title defense in the Octagon. Johnson dispatched the relatively green Cejudo in under three minutes to retain his title.
Mighty Mouse would continue his dominant ways, defending his title another three times to set the record for most consecutive title defenses in UFC history.
Cejudo would lose his next fight to flyweight contender Joseph Benavidez, before winning his next two fights in a row to earn another shot at Johnson. Cejudo would enter the bout at UFC 227 as a +400 underdog.
The challenger would suffer a scare in the first round, unable to put pressure on his foot after rolling his ankle from eating a Johnson leg kick. Johnson would capitalize to win the opening frame.
Cejudo would battle back and take the two of the next three rounds over Johnson, turning the final frame into the decisive round to see who would hold the flyweight title.
Cejudo would seem to steal the final round with a late trip and claim the title over Johnson.
Following the fight, it seemed Mighty Mouse had earned an immediate title shot, while Cejudo called out bantamweight champion TJ Dillashaw. Johnson would elect to leave for ONE Championship, where his head coach Matt Hume is an active vice presidential role.
With the looks of the dissolution of the UFC's flyweight division, we may have to look outside the UFC to see Cejudo and Johnson meet again.
Daniel Cormier vs. Jon Jones
Fans would unlikely need to see a trilogy bout between Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier with Jones' two decisive victories over the current dual-weight champion, however due to the circumstances outside the Octagon, there are only questions of 'what-if?'
However, there are valid cases with first victory for Jones over Cormier at UFC 182 being legitimate as Jones tested positive for cocaine metabolites, and not performance-enhancing drugs.
Jones would be stripped of the light heavyweight title following a felony hit-and-run that April, which left a pregnant woman injured.
Cormier would earn the vacant light heavyweight title in his next fight, submitting Anthony "Rumble" Johnson, and setting up a rematch with Jones at UFC 200.
Just a day prior to UFC 200, Jones' urine sample tested positive for banned substances forcing USADA to pull Jones from the event. 'Bones' would be suspended for one year. Cormier would face Anderson Silva instead in a non-title bout.
After another successful title defense, Cormier was scheduled to rematch Jones at UFC 214.
For the first two rounds, Cormier would pressure Jones, while the former champion would attempt to land strikes on the outside. Whenever Cormier got too close, Jones would clinch and attempt to separate.
In the third round, Cormier would continue to pressure, pushing Jones close up to the cage. Midway through the round, Jones would connect on a head kick which wobbles Cormier. Cormier would retreat, but fall to the canvas, and Jones would follow up with strikes, knocking out the champion.
That August, USADA would announce that Jones was flagged for a Turinabol, which is an anabolic steroid. The fight would be overturned to a no contest and Cormier would be reinstated as UFC light heavyweight champion.
Cormier would later pick up the heavyweight title at UFC 226 becoming the second fighter holding two UFC titles in different divisions simultaneously.
With Jones possibly moving up to heavyweight in his future, we may see a third fight between Jones and Cormier, as Jones also has aspirations picking up a title in a second weight class. However, with Cormier looking to retire in March 2019, it looks as if Jones may be running out of time to get the fight scheduled.