Over the next 12 months, we are blessed with a multitude of high-profile rematches spread across practically every weight division. Furthermore, many of these fights are considered too close to call in the eyes of MMA fans. Yet, which is the most important? Which is the most anticipated? And, which has the most potential to go down as one of the great MMA fights of all time?

We start on Dec. 14 with Demetrious Johnson defending his title against Joseph Benavidez in a rematch 15 months in the making since the split decision went in favor of “Mighty Mouse” in their initial meeting to cement Johnson’s place in history as the first UFC flyweight champion. This one promises a frantic pace and constant action, with both men having shown improvements since the first time they met. Will one man establish himself as the true greatest in the flyweight division in a dominating fashion, or will the gap between the two be narrow yet again?

We then move on to a rematch which verges on being considered a superfight at this point. When Chris Weidman steps into the Octagon on Dec. 28 for the first time as a defending champion, he will do so on the back of a whirlwind press tour unlike any other in UFC history. He will seek to silence any doubters in proving that his win over Silva was no fluke, nor is he a one-hit wonder. Instead, he sets out to prove that he is the man to take the middleweight division into the future.

Looking further ahead, we have the prospect of a rematch that would send Brazil into meltdown. If the stars were to align, it could allow Anderson Silva and Vitor Belfort to face off once again. The outcome in the first fight was certainly definitive, but, as we have seen with Cain Velasquez and Junior dos Santos, anyone can be caught early with a single shot and go on to dominate the same opponent in a prolonged follow-up encounter.

Before that, we will also see the queen of MMA, Ronda Rousey, go up against her archenemy, Miesha Tate, once again. Following a successful stint on The Ultimate Fighter reality show, Tate has a newfound wave of public support, which may add that extra spice to proceedings, given Rousey’s apparent dislike of her portrayal on the recent show.

Those are the main-event caliber fights currently on tap, but 2014 promises to produce many more mouthwatering rematches.

We have the distinct possibility of Jon Jones rematching Alexander Gustafsson before the year is out, if they can get past Glover Teixeira and Jimi Manuwa, respectively. The first fight produced many surprises, with Jones being awarded a decision that was questioned at the time. So, how the rematch will play out is anyone’s guess, but it is definitely one to watch out for.

On the subject of controversial decisions, this past weekend produced yet another promising rematch for 2014. Despite the public outcry for Johny Hendricks to be awarded the victory, the judges saw in favor of longtime champion Georges St-Pierre. Unless St-Pierre’s vague remarks about his personal life put that rematch on hold, it could eclipse any other potential rematch given that GSP is the undisputed pay-per-view star of the UFC.

That just about rounds out the potential rematches set to grace the Octagon over the next 12 months, but the rematches in 2014 don’t solely lie within the UFC. We also have the potential for the third fight between Bellator’s Michael Chandler and Eddie Alvarez, which is yet to be finalized.

As for which of these holds the most intrigue, it would certainly seem that the year-ending UFC middleweight showdown between Weidman and Silva has been placed on a pedestal that even a rematch between GSP and Hendricks could not match at this point. This is most certainly the case in the eyes of UFC President Dana White, who, despite having overseen the biggest fights of the last decade, cannot wait for the moment when Bruce Buffer takes to the mic on Dec. 28 to get things underway.

In spite of the apparent legacy-defining rematch that takes place in the UFC’s middleweight division, it would be hard from an entertainment standpoint to dispute that of all the rematches, the final part of the Bellator trilogy promises the most, given the two epic encounters that have gone before it. The intrigue for this decider also lies as much in what the future holds for both fighters once that fight has ended. Will Alvarez leave Bellator as undisputed champion or will Chandler get his revenge?

What is for certain is that there is serious potential for any of these fights to become not only the greatest rematch in MMA history, but the greatest single fight in MMA history.

If we were to look back on the close of 2013 into early 2014 in a few years time, I do not expect there to be a sense of the extraordinary in terms of how many rematches could take place. Instead, I would expect 2014 to be just the beginning of a continuing pattern of rematches that lie in store across all of MMA moving forward. As we see the sport evolve, there are increasingly minute differences between those who achieve greatness and those who fall just short.

This evolution of the sport is no more apparent than this weekend, given all the talk about MMA’s origins and the dramatic leaps it has taken since UFC 1, where each man entered with a single style of martial art with the sole aim of imposing his style on the other. Today, we see athletes with a vast array of skills honed over many years of training as fully fledged mixed martial artists.

We have seen the constant talk of a “new breed” of mixed martial artist that are just waiting to emerge from the shadows of the few remaining MMA pioneers which still fight on to this day. With this expectation, there is no doubt over the next five to 10 years that as we see these new-breed fighters emerge, the gap in talent and skill between the top fighters in each weight class will diminish, thus producing a series of closely fought epic encounters which will be decided by a single act or a single moment that sets him or her apart from the rest.

Photo: Anderson Silva (L) floored by Chris Weidman (R) (Esther Lin)

About The Author

Greg Byron
Staff Writer
Google+

Greg Byron started training in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu after his brother introduced him to a local MMA fighter/coach when he was just 16 years old. Greg has trained for nearly a decade in both BJJ and MMA, competing in several grappling events within the UK. In addition to MMA, Greg possesses a law degree and works for a firm in northern part of England.