Five championship belts have been won between the two of them. Both were superstars in the Japan-based Pride FC organization during its heyday. And both fighters have fought a veritable "who's who" of MMA competition; however, somehow they've managed to avoid each other for all these years.
During the "Countdown" to UFC 139 pre-fight program on Spike TV, "Shogun" described his upcoming fight versus "Hendo" as a "title eliminator." Maybe it is, but if that's the case, UFC President Dana has not made this information public.
If indeed accurate, it begs the question: Should the winner of this fight between Mauricio Rua vs. Dan Henderson get the next crack at the light heavyweight belt? We'll examine the issue after the jump:
First, let's get some housekeeping out of the way.
Early next month (Dec. 10, 2011), light heavyweight champion Jon Jones takes on Lyoto Machida at UFC 140 in Toronto. There's no telling how the championship fight will end; however, if the 205-pound showdown were to have a controversial ending, it's not crazy to think there could be a rematch.
It's happened before. And it could happen again.
On the flipside, if the fight does end decisively then, naturally, a new challenger will get the next crack at either "Bones" or "The Dragon." Most fans are under the assumption that it would be Rashad Evans who would finally get his date (again) with destiny. That's because twice in a row now he has been passed over for a chance to finally put his feud with "Bones" to rest.
Believe it or not, Evans himself recently admitted that he will need to win at least one more fight before he will deserve another title shot. "Suga" has said that he can be recovered from a hand injury and ready to return by Feb. 2012.
However, if Jones can emerge with his belt intact, fans would certainly clamor for the showdown between he and Evans to finally take place. After all, you can only talk so much. Eventually, you've got to just step into the Octagon and handle your business.
Meanwhile, if Machida can find a way to finally solve the Jones puzzle, it would settle up an intriguing "rubber match" between he and "Shogun," provided he is able to stay out of the way of Dan Henderson's big right hand this weekend.
Are Rua's comments just wishful thinking? Maybe. Nowadays, it seems like you've got to call someone out if you really want to fight them -- the squeaky wheel gets the oil.
Fair or not.