21 of the biggest rivalries in MMA history [UPDATED]

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Gilbert Melendez and Josh Thomson

Our next rivalry takes place in the former MMA promotion, Strikeforce. The organization dissolved in 2013 but some of the most notable fights could be the ones that took place between Gilbert Melendez and Josh Thomson. Both of these men are natives of California and had even trained with each other before meeting inside the cage for the first time.

The first meeting took place on June 27, 2008, at Strikeforce: Melendez vs. Thomson. Melendez came into the fight as the lightweight champion. He held the title for two years before the bout with Thomson. Thomson won the first meeting and took the belt from Melendez. Following the loss, Melendez won the interim title in his next time out and secured a rematch with Thomson. This time it was Melendez who walked away with the belt after five hard-fought round. Both fights went the distance with the wins coming from a unanimous decision.

The trilogy fight came three years later when Thompson fought his way back to another title shot. This fight went all five rounds just like to first two, but instead of a unanimous decision, this ended in a split decision. Melendez retained his title as lightweight king.

Following the third fight, both men moved on to the UFC. Although their paths didn’t pass again in the new organization, the desire to face each other again is still there. Thomson in now with Bellator and Melendez with the UFC but Thomson recently spoke about wanting the fourth fight to happen between these two preferably in the Bellator cage.

“There are a couple fights that I would really like to get,” Thomson told MMAjunkie Radio. “And let’s not beat around the bush – there is a small chance that Gilbert Melendez may be free in one year. So you never know. Gil and I, I feel like it would be great to do it in Bellator.”

Whether this fourth fight happens or not these three fights are ones that put Strikeforce on the map and paved the path for both fighters to be who they are today.