Mauricio Rua and Quinton Jackson, two of PRIDE FC's biggest stars during the promotion's heyday, initially locked horns at PRIDE Total Elimination 2005 in Osaka, Japan. Rua had his way with Jackson from the opening bell, delivering strike after strike, which forced the referee to step in and stop the bout halfway through the opening frame.
Since then, both have reached the pinnacle of the mixed martial arts (MMA) world, capturing gold in the form of the Ultimate Fighting Championship's (UFC) light heavyweight title. They have also competed against common opponents in Dan Henderson, Forrest Griffin, Lyoto Machida, Chuck Liddell and Jon Jones.
However, since that night in Japan, seven years ago, the two have yet to rematch.
With both former 205-pound champions coming off losses, the present, it seems, is as good a time as any to set up the rematch that fans have been longing for all these years.
Speaking to Brazilian MMA news outlet Tatame.com, "Shogun" gives his thoughts on Quinton Jackson's performance at UFC 144 against Ryan Bader this past weekend (Feb. 25, 2012) in Japan -- and also goes on to say that a second go-round against Jackson is "inevitable" before they retire.
Check it out:
"I don't discard Ryan Bader nor Rampage, Dan Henderson, Rich Franklin... I guess there are many guys I could fight. Actually, soon I'll know more about it and I'll keep you posted. I'm sure I'll train focused on my opponent and he's going to be a hard one. The fight against Rampage will happen eventually. It's inevitable and UFC knows it. He won't retire before fighting me and neither am I (laughs). I don't know if he got injured, if he was not feeling ok... It's hard to know, but Rampage is very professional and deserves to be respected."
"Shogun," was much friendlier in his analysis of Jackson's performance than that of fellow light heavyweight and former PRIDE star, Dan Henderson.
The Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) black belt has not seen action since his epic battle with the aforementioned Henderson at UFC 139 over three months ago. Rua dropped a unanimous decision to "Hendo" in what has been dubbed one of the greatest fights in MMA history.
"Rampage" had previously lobbied for a fight against ‘Shogun" in Japan, but was only granted part of his wish, as he was matched up against Ryan Bader in Saitama, instead.
Anyone disagree that this is the most obvious match-up for the two former champions? Or is there someone else that would make for more of an intriguing fight for "Shogun's" return?