Definition of Rubber Match
What does the term "rubber match" mean in the world of mixed martial arts? What is the definition of the term "rubber match" in MMA?
In mixed martial arts, the term "rubber match" refers to when two fighters fight for a third time after both having won one of their previous fights.
For instance - in October of 2013, Junior dos Santos fought Cain Velasquez for the Heavyweight title. This was the third time that they had fought - Junior dos Santos won their first fight at UFC on Fox: Velasquez vs dos Santos on November 12th, 2011, while Cain Velasquez won at UFC 155 on December 29th, 2012.
Since they were 1-1 at the time, the third fight between Velasquez and Dos Santos (UFC 166, October 19th, 2013) was declared the "rubber match" (Velasquez would eventually go on to win this fight via TKO).
It is not often that fighters will square off against each other three times over the course of their careers - here are some of the more famous "rubber matches" of all time:
BJ Penn vs Matt Hughes
Ken Shamrock vs Tito Ortiz
Forrest Griffin vs Tito Ortiz
Chuck Liddell vs Randy Couture
Georges St. Pierre vs Matt Hughes
Vitor Belfort vs Randy Couture
Andrei Arlovski vs Tim Sylvia
If you'll notice, all of these fights featured very prominent fighters in the UFC - it is rare that you will get "rubber matches" that involve fighters that are further down the UFC's pecking order. The majority of the fights listed above were title fights involving some of the UFC's biggest stars.