25. Donald Cerrone vs. Kazushi Sakuraba
On paper, this sounds like an idea that came completely out of nowhere. But if Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone and Kazushi Sakuraba faced one another in their primes, it sounds like complete chaos and fireworks — so, a lot of fun. Cerrone isn’t afraid to scrap and get in wars, and he picked up love from fans and UFC brass for his ability to quickly turn around and face any fighter chosen for him. And then there’s Sakuraba, who, while only competing at UFC Japan — winning that event’s tournament — made waves throughout his career for competing against MMA’s greatest champions and warriors.
24. Valentina Shevchenko vs. Ronda Rousey
Ronda Rousey was already out the MMA door when Valentina Shevchenko rose her stock into stardom with a July 2016 win over Holly Holm. In fact, Shevchenko is perhaps the biggest female star in MMA right now outside of Amanda Nunes — who Shevchenko took her to the final horn twice. In fact, the second fight, for the bantamweight title, saw a controversial decision that some feel Shevchenko should have gotten the nod in. But with “Bullet” holding her own against the likes of Nunes, Holm and Joanna Jedrzejczyk, it’s only natural to see how she would have held up against Rousey, who was at one point the baddest woman on the planet.
23. Diego Sanchez vs. Forrest Griffin
The first season of The Ultimate Fighter brought in many new eyes to the UFC and helped save the promotion, as well as established the sport’s presence and eventual growth in North America. That first season also produced two of the show’s greatest winners and two UFC Hall of Famers, Diego Sanchez and former UFC light heavyweight champion Forrest Griffin. The show gave out two six-figure contracts for each division tournament winner (Sanchez at middleweight and Griffin at light heavyweight), but imagine if there was a superfight final with Sanchez and Griffin facing off. Who would have the right to call himself “The Ultimate Ultimate Fighter?”
22. Georges St-Pierre vs. Ben Askren
Ben Askren has long called for an opportunity to get into the UFC and face Georges St-Pierre, going back to Askren’s reign as Bellator welterweight champion while GSP was still the champ in the UFC. In fact, not only is GSP Askren’s dream opponent, Askren once said he’d really only consider the UFC if he got to face GSP. Askren truly feels he could make easy work of GSP, and this battle of welterweight champions would be one to watch — if only to see how things play out after Askren’s pre-fight antics. With Askren not exactly known for his stand-up game, could GSP tag him around time and time again throughout the fight? Could he neutralize Askren’s wrestling? Or would Askren be able to smother and hold down GSP and control the action?
21. TJ Dillashaw vs. Demetrious Johnson
It’s always possible we get this matchup down the line, but with TJ Dillashaw suspended until 2021 and Demetrious Johnson traded to ONE, each passing day makes it less and less likely — and less and less special. After losing a bantamweight title fight to Dominick Cruz, Johnson dropped to flyweight and became the UFC’s inaugural champion in the weight class. And for about six years, Johnson was the only champion, running through every challenger that came his way. Meanwhile, Dillashaw came into the UFC through The Ultimate Fighter and upset Renan Barao for the 135-pound title. For whatever reason, these two could not agree to terms on a fight at either weight class, and while we ultimately saw Dillashaw move down to 125 to face Henry Cejudo (and pay for it), not seeing him face Johnson at either weight was a missed opportunity.