In the main event of UFC 139, former UFC Light Heavyweight champion Mauricio Rua, better known to fans as Shogun Rua (20-5; 4-3 UFC) faces former Pride and Strikeforce Light Heavyweight champion Dan Henderson (28-8; 5-2 UFC). This Light Heavyweight fight will determine the next #1 contender to face the winner of Jon Jones vs. Lyoto Machida. The USA Today/BE Consensus Rankings currently have Shogun ranked as the #2 Light Heavyweight in the world, with Henderson just a few spots lower at #6. The PPV card airs on Saturday at 9 p.m. ET / 6 p.m. PT.
This is a fight with a lot of rich history behind it, dating back to both men's days in Pride. When Pride folded, Shogun was considered by many to be the top 205 pound fighter in the world, and certainly the top in Pride. But Henderson was Pride's champion in that division, having won the belt from Shogun's Chute Boxe teammate Wanderlei Silva. After the end of Pride, both men came to the UFC. They each had a bit of a rocky start, but Shogun eventually won the UFC belt, while Henderson left the organization and claimed his gold in Strikeforce. They should have met a long time ago, and it will be great to see them finally matched up now.
How do these two stack up?
Shogun: 29 years old | 6'1" | 76" reach
Henderson: 41 years old | 5'11" | 71" reach
What have these two done recently?
How did these two get here?
Shogun Rua has had a very rough road since the end of Pride. As I said above, he was the young phenom when the organization folded. Feared for his brutal assaults, Shogun was a beast. Then, in his UFC debut, he was choked out by Forrest Griffin, and his star immediately dulled. It wasn't until a pair of fights against Lyoto Machida that resulted in Shogun winning the UFC Light Heavyweight title that he finally began to really look good in the UFC. But since then, he's lost to Jon Jones, and defeated Griffin in a rematch that spoke volumes about Forrest, but didn't tell us much about Shogun. He may have what it takes to regain UFC gold, but his body (and his knees in particular) has taken a lot of damage, and if he's going to make one more run, now is the time.
Hendo, Dan Henderson, is a long time veteran whose UFC debut came all the way back at UFC 17. He's an original Team Quest fighter who combines his wrestling with a bomb of a right hand. Hendo spent most of his career in Pride where he was the champion in two separate divisions when the company closed. He returned to the UFC a double champion, losing to UFC champions Anderson Silva and Rampage Jackson. He was on a 3-0 UFC streak when he left the company after UFC 100, moving to Strikeforce. There, he won the Light Heavyweight belt, as well as became the first man to knock out Fedor Emelianenko. He's 41 years old, but still fighting as well as he's ever fought, and is a real threat to the UFC Light Heavyweight division.
Why should you care?
If you're a Pride fan, this is the long awaited fight that should have been. If not, it's still two former champions fighting for a shot back at the top. They match up well stylistically too, and this one should be good.
More UFC 139 preview coverage from Bloody Elbow after the jump.