The greatest trilogies in MMA history

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Danny Howard

July 6th, 2021

They say that good things come in threes, and that's especially true in combat sports. These hard-fought trilogies are sure to stand the test of time as the best in MMA history.

5. Ken Shamrock vs. Tito Ortiz

Though this one-sided rivalry saw Ortiz defeating Shamrock in each of their three encounters, it's a historically significant series. Shamrock and Ortiz’s rivalry was the biggest thing that was going on in the early days of the UFC, and the hype and hatred helped the promotion crossover into the mainstream.

Though Shamrock was already a shell of his former self, it was the meeting of these two legends that helped the UFC turn into what it has become today.

4. Fedor Emelianenko vs. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira

When the unstoppable force faced the immovable object, it took three incredible fights to determine who would be left standing when the dust settled.

Emelianenko and Nogueira’s first brawl was a sight to see, but Nogueira came up short on the cards. Their second bout saw Nogueira on track to even the score, but an accidental headbutt resulted in a no-contest. Their final encounter between the two saw Emelianenko scoring a competitive, but clear decision to come out on top.

3. Georges St. Pierre vs. Matt Hughes

The longterm storyline of the GSP/Hughes trilogy saw the birth of a great fighter and the decline of another in three parts. In their first bout, a green St. Pierre was outclassed by the far more experienced and accomplished Hughes, who trapped him in an armbar that won him the night. St. Pierre greatly improved ahead of the first rematch with Hughes, avenging his loss by flattening Hughes in the second round.

There was no doubt who the better man was in their final bout, as St. Pierre ended the trilogy as it started, submitting Hughes via armbar in the second round.

2. Chuck Liddell vs. Randy Couture

Liddell and Couture were natural foils for each other, and their trilogy of bouts enhanced the UFC product as a whole. Couture managed to shock Liddell by dropping him and taking him down en route to a shock upset. The close nature of the bout ensured a rematch would happen.

Despite two more contested encounters, Liddell lived up to his "Iceman" moniker by knocking Couture out and standing tall at the end of their fantastic series.

1. Wanderlei Silva vs. Quinton Jackson

The Silva/Jackson trilogy was three fights fought across two promotions and had plenty of blood spilt along the way. Silva and Jackson were among the two most vicious fighters in PRIDE and clearly couldn't care less for the other’s well-being in their pair of fights won by Silva.

Despite this, Jackson was hellbent on having the final word when the two met for the third time at UFC 92. This time, Jackson had Silva’s number after another devastating fight, one highlighted with Jackson savagely pounding at an unconscious Silva moments after knocking him out.