21 of the biggest rivalries in MMA history [UPDATED]

UFC 229: Khabib v McGregor Press Conference
UFC 229: Khabib v McGregor Press Conference / Steven Ryan/GettyImages
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Here is a look at MMA’s biggest and baddest fighter rivalries over the years both inside the cage and out.

When two fighters are locked inside a cage together they have only one objective, to be victorious. When these two fighters dislike each other the stakes are that much higher. In the short history of mixed martial arts as a sport, there have been several notable fighter rivalries. The bad blood flows both inside the cage and outside.

When it comes to fighting there is basic human emotions at hand. The leadup to the fights can bring out strong feelings in these fighters. Many times the fighters have to participate in media obligations in the weeks prior to the events. In this time tension, as well as weight cutting can lead to brawls and other episodes. Fans have seen fighters losing their cool and lashing out at interview and event press conferences.

Many times fighters have a history between them. It is during these times that a fight build-up can have lasting effects. Although MMA is an individual sport, many times fighters will belong to a fight team and the rivalry between teams can make for tension between fighters who are pitted against each other.

In the 30 years since mixed martial arts burst on the scene, there have been many rivalries that could go down in history as the greatest. Here we take a look at the top 21 rivalries in MMA history, in no particular order.

Updated in March 2023