UFC 134: Rio Primer - Forrest Griffin vs. Mauricio Rua

UFC® RIO Weigh-In at HSBC Arena on Friday, August 26, 2011 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (Photos by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

In the semi-main event of UFC 134: Rio, Forrest Griffin (18-6; 9-4 UFC) faces Mauricio Rua (19-5; 3-3 UFC), better known as Shogun. This is a Light Heavyweight contest between two former UFC Light Heavyweight champions. According to the USA TODAY / MMA Nation Consensus MMA Rankings, Shogun is currently the #3 Light Heavyweight in the world, while Griffin sits at #6. 

Like the Anderson Silva vs. Yushin Okami main event, this fight is a rematch. These two met four years ago at UFC 76. At that time, Shogun was widely considered the #1 Light Heavyweight in the world, and was making his UFC debut. Griffin was still a rising star, known more as a personality from The Ultimate Fighter than as a legitimate top talent. In that fight, Griffin outworked a visibly exhausted Rua, ultimately securing a rear naked choke for the win in the final seconds of the fight. Both men have since gone on to win and lose the Light Heavyweight title.

How do these two stack up?

Griffin: 32 years old | 6'3" | 77" reach
Rua: 29 years old | 6'1" | 76" reach

What have these two done recently?

Griffin: W - Rich Franklin (UD) | W - Tito Ortiz (SD) | L - Anderson Silva (KO)
Rua: L - Jon Jones (TKO) | W - Lyoto Machida (KO) | L - Lyoto Machida (UD)

How did these two get here?

Both men come in to this fight on a recent path of highs and lows. For Forrest Griffin, the 2007 win over Shogun was the start of his true rise to the top of the Light Heavyweight ranks. He followed that win up by defeating Quinton Jackson for the Light Heavyweight title. But after dropping the belt to Rashad Evans, he suffered a humiliating defeat at the hands of Anderson Silva. He's only fought twice in the two years since that loss, scoring two good, if unmemorable, wins. Griffin had great momentum a few years ago, but time off to get healthy and focus on his writing has stalled that momentum. He needs a big win here.

Shogun was, at one time, the young superstar of MMA. During his Pride years, he was virtually unstoppable, winning the Pride Grand Prix at just 23 years old. He came into the UFC on a mountain of hype, but the Griffin loss and subsequent poor showing against Mark Coleman crumbled that mountain. Shogun fought back, defeating Lyoto Machida (twice, some would argue) to win the Light Heavyweight crown, before falling to Jon Jones - the new young superstar. Shogun now needs to prove if he is still relevant, or if the Lyoto fights were his last grasp at the top.

Why should you care?

These are two highly entertaining and competitive fighters, both badly in need of a win, with the winner moving into title contention. It's also a rematch of a great fight. There's a lot on the line here, and both men will hopefully show that.

More UFC 134 Previews from Bloody Elbow after the jump.

More UFC 134 coverage from SBN

 

 

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