Last night (Nov. 19, 2011), mixed martial arts (MMA) fans at the HP Pavilion in San Jose, Calif., were treated to an event full of classic names, rising prospects and exciting fights that exceeded their lofty expectations.
UFC 139: "Shogun vs. Hendo" was a card that did not feature a single championship bout, but it still managed to carry a healthy amount of title implications.
The headline fight between Mauricio Rua and Dan Henderson was never confirmed to be a number one contender eliminator match; however, once the dust settled on its brilliance many believe that it very well have been. Meanwhile, the 135-pound showdown between Urijah Faber vs. Brian Bowles featured two former World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) champions who were looking to get a crack at Dominick Cruz's bantamweight belt with a victory.
After the jump, we'll talk about what's next for last night's big winners, "Hendo" and "The California Kid:"Mauricio Rua vs. Dan Henderson will forever go down in MMA history as one of the greatest fights of all time. For five rounds, two absolute legends of the sport threw everything they had at each other in a 205-pound fight that had the crowd roaring and on their feet for a good portion of the 25-minute contest.
It was a fantastic advertisement for five-round non-title main events. It was also proof that the 41-year old Henderson still has some gas in the tank.
The future for "Dangerous Dan" was left up in the air when UFC president Dana White sounded very non-committal in the UFC 139 post-fight press conference about Henderson's next opponent.
At one point, White made the comment that Henderson "could fight for the 185-pound or the 205-pound title." Yet, when reporters in the room tried to nail him down on an answer, he was unwilling to say which was more probable for the former Strikeforce light heavyweight champion.
White did, however, say that he still feels Chael Sonnen is the number one contender in the middleweight division.
If the promotion does actually offer Henderson the choice between middleweight and light heavyweight, he will likely choose the division that offers him the fastest track to a title shot. Hard to say which weight class would offer that opportunity, but a fight against current light heavyweight Jon Jones seems like the most likely scenario after last night's epic battle.
In regard to Faber, it's not how far you fall, but how high you bounce that counts.
This expression fairly well epitomizes Faber's career. After every one of his MMA losses, he has come back to finish his opponent in impressive fashion. Thus was the case last night, as Faber bum-rushed former training partner Brian Bowles en route to a devastating second round submission victory.
Faber will now get the trilogy match for which he's been begging, taking on UFC Bantamweight Champion Dominick Cruz for the third time to see who will emerge with the belt and, perhaps more important, bragging rights.
In the most recent match up between Faber and Cruz, fans witnessed a fast-paced and furious, five-round fight that saw the champion retain his title via unanimous decision. Ever since that fateful night on at UFC 132 on July 2, 2011, in Las Vegas, Nevada, Faber has been calling for another crack at Cruz, who he believes he defeated when they last squared off.
No word yet on the date or event for this upcoming title bout, but you can be sure that MMAmania.com will have the news when it becomes available.
Do you think "Hendo" should be next in line to fight "Bones" for the 205-pound strap? Are you Maniacs pumped about "Faber vs. Cruz 3?"
Let's hear it.