Sports rivalries take many forms. There are the rivalries that are competitive, yet friendly away from the game. There are heated rivalries with a begrudging respect between the competitors. And then there are the ugly rivalries, where both sides really don’t like each other. Here are the five ugliest sports rivalries in recent years.
Ever since the United States started taking soccer (a little) more seriously, it has developed quite the rivalry with Mexico City. While games in the United States between these two teams are intense, it goes up to a whole new level in Mexico City, where some fans have been extremely disrespectful towards the United States’ players.
While the 49ers have fallen on hard times, near the start of the decade their rivalry with the Seahawks was the best in the NFL. Every game was a slugfest, and both the players and coaches didn’t like each other. Rumor has it that 49ers coaches taunted the Seahawks after multiple wins, while Richard Sherman of the Seahawks famously trash-talked Michael Crabtree after the 2013 NFC Championship.
Colloquially this rivalry between universities is known as the Holy War, but more formally as “The Deseret First Duel” – after the Salt Lake City credit union that sponsors it. The rivalry between these two colleges transcends any single sport. Both schools have notched significant victories over the other in football, basketball, and baseball, and the rivalry has included plenty of off-field incidents. Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak canceled a basketball game between the schools in the 2016-2017 season due to the intensity of the games, especially one which featured a BYU player punching a Utah player.
Built on quite a bit of trash talk, this division rivalry reached its apex during the 2002 Western Conference Finals. The series included a clutch shot by Robert Horry to save the Lakers’ season, controversial foul calls to help the Lakers in game six, and the Kings faltering under the pressure of the deciding game seven.
There have been other high-profile UFC rivalries, but none with this kind of malice. Jones and Cormier have disliked each other for years and ended up brawling at a pre-fight event. While Jones won the only fight between the two to date, a rematch is likely for 2017.
One thing all rivalries have in common is that they bring the best out of everyone involved. These five may have been ugly, but they were always incredible to watch.