Two friends and training partners turn bitter rivals and step into the cage to settle their differences. Boy, it doesn't get any more heated than this Jon Jones vs. Rashad Evans feud.
Except I was talking about Chuck Liddell vs. Tito Ortiz.
You might find this hard to believe, but "Bones" Jones and "Suga" Rashad did not invent the concept of a sports feud. When Jones puts his light heavyweight championship on the line against ex-champ Evans in the main event of UFC 145 Saturday night in Atlanta (10 p.m. ET, PPV), it will be merely the latest renewal of mixed martial arts melodrama. Even more recently than Chuck vs. Tito, we've had Frank Mir wishing death on Brock Lesnar and nearly being a prophet. We still have the ongoing debate between middleweight champion Anderson Silva and "middleweight champion" Chael Sonnen. There's also, of course, Dana White vs. any reporter or satirist who doesn't make nice.
Looping in the larger sports world, there's Ali vs. Frazier, Kobe vs. Shaq, Al Davis vs. the NFL. And there may be no more vicious hand-to-hand combat than what's gone on for decades between the Red Sox and Yankees -- from Carlton Fisk vs. Thurman Munson to Pedro Martinez vs. Don Zimmer.
Then again, if you include sharpshooting, the biggest sports feud would have to go back to 1804, when Alexander Hamilton, a former Secretary of the Treasury, was shot to death in a duel with Aaron Burr, who at the time was the sitting vice president. (And we ridiculed Dick Cheney for mistakenly winging a friend during a hunting trip!) Though both politicians lived in New York, the duel took place in Weehawken, N.J., because the pistol feud sanctioning bill was stalled in the New York State Assembly.
And now we have Jones vs. Evans, with the UFC hyping the bout as if it were Hatfield vs. McCoy. The fight organization even has released to the media a colorful graphic showing a detailed timeline of the festering feud. The official timeline, at least. Your humble correspondent has added a little perspective to the timeline by digging up some facts the UFC chose not to include.