10 Rivalries from Movies and TV That Are as Intense as MMA

Daniel Wu as Sunny - Into the Badlands _ Season 3, Episode 6 - Photo Credit: Aidan Monaghan/AMC

Conor versus Khabib. Frank Mir and Brock Lesnar. The MMA world is filled with brutal, pain-bringing rivalries. That intensity is also rampant in some of the best action movies and TV shows, from superheroes and villains duking it out in outer space to boxers and kung-fu masters putting their all into one last fight. Read on for some rivalries from the big and small screen that contain all the raw intensity of two fighters facing off in the octagon. And for more bitter rivalries and pulse-pounding action, Into the Badlands returns for its final episodes in a two-night premiere event, Sunday, March 24th and 25th on AMC.

The Widow Vs. Baron Chau, Into the Badlands


As the last two remaining Barons, the rivalry between The Widow and Baron Chau reached a boiling point in season three of Into the Badlands. (Turning your own sibling against you, as the Widow did with Chau’s brother Gaius, can certainly make things tense.) The raid on White Bone palace culminated in a fierce sword fight between Baron Chau and The Widow with a surprising ending. (To find out what happens next, head over to AMC.com to watch full episodes of Into the Badlands.)

Rocky Balboa Vs. Apollo Creed, Rocky series

The Italian Stallone and The Count of Monte Fisto’s first bout ended in victory for Apollo in a split decision that’s still controversial to this day. Rocky then took the championship belt from Creed in a brutal slugfest, and the former rivals eventually became friends. (And beach running pals!) Rocky, stand-up palooka that he is, honored his longtime rival’s legacy by training Apollo’s illegitimate son, Adonis Creed, to become a skilled fighter in his own right.

Rick Grimes Vs. Negan, The Walking Dead

Negan and Rick’s battle carried out over several seasons of The Walking Dead, culminating in a brutal skirmish where Rick slashed Negan’s throat. (He survived, proving that Negan and cockroaches will probably be the last ones standing in the zombie apocalypse.) Their deadly feud has reached a stalemate for now, but knowing Negan, he’s plotting something particularly nasty for the next time he’s face-to-face with his nemesis.

The Avengers Vs. Thanos, Avengers: Infinity War

The epic battle between Thanos and Marvel’s mighty superheroes came to a thrilling cliffhanger in Avengers: Infinity War. The battle raged across the galaxy, but it all changed when Thanos utilized the full power of the Infinity Gauntlet and caused half of all life across the universe to be extinguished. With a snap of Thanos’ fingers, Spider-Man, Black Panther, Doctor Strange and several other heroes ceased to exist. The Avengers are down, but this heated rivalry enters its “endgame” when the fourth installment hits theaters.

Batman Vs. The Joker, The Dark Knight

Batman and Joker have been mortal enemies since the Clown Prince of Crime first appeared in the pages of Batman #1 way back in 1940. (They’ve been trading blows longer than even Tito Ortiz and Chuck Liddell have.) But easily one of the most intense moments in the duo’s history of violence has to be when Batman and Joker played a game of chicken on the streets of Gotham in The Dark Knight. As the Batpod cycle sped towards Joker’s truck, Batman suddenly fires cables and causes the vehicle to flip over in spectacular fashion. It’s a face-off for the ages, and one that gave moviegoers one of the best action sequences of all time.

Walter White Vs. Gus Fring, Breaking Bad

Though they come from completely different worlds, Breaking Bad rivals Walter White and Gus Fring are well-matched in their ruthlessness. (Neither are above poisoning someone to get what they want.) They may have started out as partners thanks to Walter’s 99% pure blue meth, but once their alliance fell apart, things got messy fast. Literally messy, in fact, after the bomb Walt planted in Hector Salamanca’s wheelchair went off. Before dying, Gus proved he’s the ultimate badass rival by calmly straightening his tie with half of his face missing.

John McClane Vs. Hans Gruber, Die Hard

Super cop John McClane has taken down many bad guys over the years, but no adversary has been quite as fierce (or as well-dressed) as Hans Gruber. McClane and Gruber have as much tension trading quips over walkie-talkies as they do in their final confrontation atop Nakatomi Plaza. When it comes to brute strength and survival skills, McClane has the upper hand. But if this rivalry was purely about who wears the sharpest tailored suit, Hans would walk away the victor.

Professor Xavier Vs. Magneto, X-Men movies

The rivalry between two of the world’s most powerful mutants comes down to conflicting ideologies: Prof. X believes that peace between humans and those gifted with mutant abilities is possible, while Magneto would rather use his powers to hurl pieces of metal into the weak flesh of anyone who seeks to oppress mutantkind. Whether played by Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen or James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender, the standoffs between Magneto and Prof. X always bring the thunder. (Sometimes literally, when Storm has to break up their fights.)

Daniel LaRusso Vs. Johnny Lawrence, The Karate Kid

Young Daniel first sparred with the star pupil of the Cobra Kai dojo in The Karate Kid. Ultimate ‘80s bully Johnny followed his villainous sensei’s command to “sweep the leg,” but Daniel-san proved victorious with the help of Mr. Miyagi’s patented crane kick. Many years later, their rivalry took a surprising turn in the Cobra Kai series, where grown-up Johnny finds himself the underdog after life has dealt Daniel a better hand.

Maximus Vs. Commodus, Gladiator

When Maximus, hero of the people, refuses to bow to Commodus’ rule, the self-proclaimed “merciful” emperor makes the grave mistake of challenging the muscular gladiator to a fight in the arena. But first he stabs the chained Maximus, thinking a bloody wound will weaken his foe in combat. Unfortunately for Commodus, Maximus introduces his enemy to the business end of his own knife during their final battle, putting an end to their bloody rivalry.

Watch below to get a first look at “Widow Vs The Master” before the final episodes of Into the Badlands return in a two-night premiere event, March 24th and 25th on AMC.

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