ByJoshua Molina, writer at Creators.co
Award-winning journalist. Covers mixed martial arts and professional wrestling and the convergence of the two industries.
Joshua Molina

It is called “fighting,” after all. As much as we love weight classes, by which comparably sized fighters slug it out for supremacy inside confined quarters, there’s something dreamy and mythical about a big guy fighting a little guy, and pulling for the little guy to win, or rooting for the big guy to squash the chump.

It’s the old David vs. Goliath story. Sometimes, however, Goliath wins. That's just life.

And it’s not just men. Women have always been fighters and they are now on the big stage in 2016.

This weekend, we will see the throwback to MMA’s origins with the Rizin Fighting World GP 2016 Open Weight Tournament. It’s where guys, regardless of weight, will compete against one another to find out who the better fighter is, regardless of how much you weigh.

These are the kind of fights that we all thrive on.

The idea that a master of jiu-jitsu could take down and submit a big, powerful striker has eternal appeal, and the concept is one of the foundations MMA was built on. Throw two people inside a cage or ring and see what happens.

That’s what we will see with the Rizin open weight tournament. But, what if we could see this kind of tournament featuring the sport’s elite in the UFC? How cool would that be?

Well, thanks to the awesome staff at Champions.co, we can.

We’ve compiled a dream list of fighters and intriguing match-ups that are enough to make any MMA fan’s mouth water. These are all great fighters, and if they fought one another, they'd tear the house down.

Let us hear your thoughts on these dream match-ups.


Men's Division

USA TODAY Sports
USA TODAY Sports

Tony Ferguson vs. Conor McGregor

Even though McGregor is the featherweight champ, we all know seeing him at 155 isn't a stretch. Lately, anyone against McGregor has been an exciting fight, and the same could be said of Ferguson. Imagine getting these two strikers in one place. I might explode from excitement! Despite being a diehard McGregor fan, I actually think my money would be on Ferguson. - Amy Kaplan

USA TODAY Sports/Amy Kaplan
USA TODAY Sports/Amy Kaplan

Josh Barnett vs. Dan Henderson

Catch wrestling vs. Olympic wrestling, need I say more? Barnett is one of the most dynamic grapplers the heavyweight division has ever seen, while Henderson has managed to parlay his wrestling acumen into a surprisingly potent striking game, making for a very intriguing match-up of styles. While Barnett would come in with a pretty hefty size advantage, I don’t think that would bother Hendo too much, considering he’s already moved up in weight once before… to knock out Fedor Emelianenko no less. - Ryan Matsunaga

USA TODAY Sports
USA TODAY Sports

Stipe Miocic vs. Daniel Cormier

Stipe Miocic has the best striking in the heavyweight division, in my opinion. He's aggressive, has legitimate power and great footwork. He's also a very capable wrestler, doesn't panic in tough situations (see Overeem's guillotine attempt) and is amazingly durable. Daniel Cormier is a very intelligent athlete whose fight IQ soars in every contest. He has the unique ability to take stock of his fights minute-by-minute and apply whatever method needed to get the job done. He's also got legitimate power and his wrestling pedigree is...well, he's Olympic level, so "world class" is a moniker frequently attached to him. A champion vs. champion bout is the definition of a true "superfight," and this one has "Gangbusters" written all over it. - Stephie Haynes

Donald Cerrone vs. Jose Aldo

Donald Cerrone has made it very clear that he does not mind fighting anybody. He has taken on the best of the lightweight division, and is working his way through the welterweight division. The next step is to take on one of the best fighters in UFC history. Jose Aldo was once considered the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world. Though he has fallen since his loss at UFC 194, he is still a top 5 P4P fighter. This fight would be Cerrone's willingness to fight anyone against Aldo's desire to prove he is the best. - Jack Sullivan

USA TODAY Sports
USA TODAY Sports

Nate Diaz vs. Nick Diaz

Nate Diaz always said that if you put all of the fighters in the UFC on a mountain, that he'd be at the top of that mountain and would probably see his brother there. So, what if he did see his brother Nick Diaz there? They spar constantly, have probably rolled a million times in the living room, as well as on the mat, but what would happen in a real fight? A Moneyweight fight of this magnitude could rip a hole in MMA reality as we know it. Of course, it'd have to be no time limits, no rules and each fighter would need an exemption for medical marijuana. -Justin Golightly

USA TODAY Sports
USA TODAY Sports

Anderson Silva vs. Jon Jones

Anderson Silva is widely regarded as the greatest UFC fighter of all time. He has the longest winning streak and longest title defense streak in the promotion’s history, and he seemed unstoppable for his first seven years with the UFC. Though his legacy is already cemented, an openweight tournament title would all but confirm his supremacy in the sport. So, why not put him against another all-time great. Jon Jones has never been beaten in MMA, with his only loss coming from DQ. If his out-of-competition issues didn’t exist, he may very well be called the GOAT and hold UFC records. This fight would match up some of the best mixed martial artists for an awesome fight. - Rick Lee

USA TODAY Sports
USA TODAY Sports

Stefan Struve vs. Demetrious Johnson

Have you ever had a mosquito buzzing at your ear, and every time you tried to swat it, you missed? Then, you noticed all of a sudden than you had three bites on your neck? That's the deal with this dream fight between heavyweight Stefan Struve and Demetrious Johnson. Struve, the 7-foot-tall giant of the heavyweight division, against Johnson, the 5-foot-1 flyweight champion. Johnson would attempt to leg kick Struve down to size, while Struve would likely chase him around the cage, looking to grab him and pound him. It's a battle of speed vs. power, big vs. small and brains vs. brawn. Johnson would have the opportunity to prove that size doesn't matter, while Struve needs to show that a good big man always beats a good little man. This is a catchweight fight separated by nearly two feet and 100 pounds. Who could look away? -Josh Molina

USA TODAY Sports
USA TODAY Sports

Stephen "Wonderboy" Thompson vs. Luke "Service With A Smirk" Rockhold

OK, that's not Luke's actual nickname, but it might as well be! Two, top-level kickboxers, with a similar, wide karate stance, which will hopefully equate to a battle of question mark kicks. I feel they'd push each other in a way nobody in their respected divisions can, a mastery of movement if you will, aka an Ido Portal wet dream. - Dave Rispoli

Full Bracket:

  • Conor McGregor vs. Tony Ferguson
  • Josh Barnett vs. Dan Henderson
  • Stipe Miocic vs. Daniel Cormier
  • Donald Cerrone vs. Jose Aldo
  • Nate Diaz vs. Nick Diaz
  • Anderson Silva vs. Jon Jones
  • Stefan Struve vs. Demetrious Johnson
  • Stephen Thompson vs. Luke Rockhold

Women's Division

USA TODAY Sports
USA TODAY Sports

Cris Cyborg vs Joanna Jędrzejczyk

Let's face it, no one has been able to touch Cyborg at her natural weight in a long time, but in a fairy tale world, where Joanna Jędrzejczyk could pack on some serious muscle, I think JJ might give Cyborg a run for her money. There's no doubt that JJ would stand with Cyborg, putting her precision striking against Cyborg's overwhelming power. Imagine it, you know it would be glorious. - Amy Kaplan

Mackenzie Dern/ONE Championship
Mackenzie Dern/ONE Championship

Mackenzie Dern vs. Angela Lee

Are there two more exciting prospects in women’s MMA right now? I think not. Angela Lee has been on a tear through Asia’s atomweight scene over the past year and a half, picking up six straight victories en route to defeating Mei Yamaguchi for the inaugural ONE Championship Atomweight Title. Her grappling ability has been unrivaled so far in her short career, with five submission victories (including a twister!). That tide would change pretty quickly against Mackenzie Dern, though. Dern is widely considered to be the best female Brazilian jiu-jitsu practitioner in the world, with back-to-back World Jiu-Jitsu Championship gold medals. That said, Dern only has one professional MMA fight so far, a decision win against fellow newcomer Kenia Rosas, giving Lee a pretty sizable experience advantage, especially on the feet. - Ryan Matsunaga

Instagram/USA TODAY Sports
Instagram/USA TODAY Sports

Alexa Grasso vs. Jessica Andrade

Alexa Grasso is the newest face on the UFC strawweight roster, and she brings a hefty amount of hype with her. At 8-0, the Mexican prospect has some of the best, most technically sound stand-up in WMMA. She fights beautifully in close quarters with crisp jabs and punching combinations, and has terrific takedown defense, punishing her opponents when they shoot in. Jessica Andrade is a compact brick house that's found her rhythm at 115 (where she should've been fighting all along). She's extraordinarily powerful and runs through her opponents with a spear/takedown that would make any offensive lineman jealous. The stand-up specialist vs ground juggernaut is one of the most interesting match-ups to be made in the division right now. - Stephie Haynes

USA TODAY Sports
USA TODAY Sports

Miesha Tate vs. Paige VanZant

This match-up would feature two fighters who are widely beloved by UFC fans. Miesha Tate has long been a fan favorite in MMA, dating all the way back to her time in Strikeforce. Her path to become a Strikeforce champion built her popularity, and her toughness in the Ronda Rousey fights just solidified her fan base. The new American sweetheart of MMA is Paige VanZant. PVZ may have gained fans outside the Octagon with her time on Dancing with the Stars, but her 4-1 record has earned her the admiration from legions of fans. This fight would finally settle who the most popular female fighter in the UFC is. - Jack Sullivan

Instagram/USA Sports Today
Instagram/USA Sports Today

Ayaka Hamasaki vs. Rose Namajunas

The current Invicta Atomweight (105 lbs.) champion, Ayaka Hamasaki, also held the Jewels Lightweight title (115 lbs). Her only loss is to UFC Strawweight contender, Cláudia Gadelha, which is nothing to be ashamed of. If there is one female fighter that would be a poster child for an Openweight tournament, it would he Hamaski. As one of the smaller UFC Strawweights, the always game, "Thug" Rose Namajunas would give the double weight champion a scrappy fight that could go down as one of the greatest, most entertaining WMMA fights of all time. - Justin Golightly

USA TODAY Sports
USA TODAY Sports

Karolina Kowalkiewicz vs. Holly Holm

Karolina Kowalkiewicz has been surging through the strawweight division in the UFC. She is undefeated in MMA with a 10-0 record and has three wins in the UFC. Her performance in the Octagon will likely lead to a title shot with JJ Champion soon. A fight against Holly Holm would prove she is legit. Holm is a big 135er, giving her a size advantage to most of her opponents anyway. Her counter-striking would make for a good match-up against the aggressive Kowalkiewicz. Both of these women could prove in this fight why they deserve title shots. - Rick Lee

USA TODAY Sports
USA TODAY Sports

Ronda Rousey vs. Felice Herrig

These are two colossal MMA personalities that know how to turn heads. Rousey, the UFC women's pioneer who took WMMA and made it mainstream. Herrig has also developed a mainstream following that makes her fights must-see TV. Even though Rousey weighs 20 pounds more, Herrig brings a legitimate kickboxing background to the fight, and we know how Rousey fares against kickboxers. Making the fight even more interesting, is that Herrig has never been submitted in a professional contest. Rousey wins most of her fights by submission. Would Rousey hear the ghosts of the high kick and buckle under the pressure against Herrig? Would Herrig be able to defend against the armbar, and throw Rousey off her game? This is a battle of two of the biggest female faces of MMA. No matter who wins, the fans win with this women's dream match. - Josh Molina

USA Today
USA Today

Amanda Nunes vs. Tecia Torres

Two gals that bring the heat every time. Tough with a capital "T." There is, of course, a bit of a size difference, but if you have ever seen Tecia outside of a fight camp, one, single thigh is as big as Demetrious Johnson. Plus, both fighters have recently come out to the public and I think it would be a rockin fight that could bring in a much-needed LGBT audience. - Dave Rispoli

Full Bracket:

  • Cris Cyborg vs. Joanna Jędrzejczyk
  • Angela Lee vs. Mackenzie Dern
  • Alexa Grasso vs. Jessica Andrade
  • Miesha Tate vs. Paige VanZant
  • Ayaka Hamasaki vs. Rose Namajunas
  • Karolina Kowalkiewicz vs. Holly Holm
  • Ronda Rousey vs. Felice Herrig
  • Amanda Nunes vs. Tecia Torres