Photo via MMAweekly.com.
The Light Heavyweight fight announcement was made this evening (March 13, 2012) on FX's "UFC Tonight" program. No date, venue or event is known at this time; however, it will certainly be an eagerly anticipated 205-pound showdown. Shortly after the show wrapped, the promotion offered this statement:
As reported on Fuel TV's UFC Tonight, UFC President Dana White has revealed that disgruntled former UFC light heavyweight champion Quinton "Rampage" Jackson will face another former champ, Mauricio "Shogun" Rua. The stellar pairing will be a rematch of their 2005 PRIDE bout, which Rua won by knockout. The bout is the last of Jackson's UFC contract, and he and the UFC are expected to part ways after the fight, which doesn't have a site or date yet.
Jackson and Rua, two of Pride FC's biggest stars during the mixed martial arts (MMA) promotion's heyday, initially locked horns at PRIDE: "Total Elimination" in Osaka, Japan, way back in 2005. "Shogun" had his way with "Rampage" from the opening bell, delivering strike after strike, which forced the referee to step in and stop the bout halfway through the opening frame.
Much has changed since that time.
Jackson has seemingly fallen into the deep-end, imploding after his most recent unanimous decision loss to Ryan Bader at UFC 144 in Saitama, Japan, just last month. The former 205-pound Pride FC and UFC champion has launched very public (and very ugly) verbal spat with his employers at Zuffa.
Recently, "Rampage" went so far as to accuse the UFC of trying to sabotage his career, and even said that UFC matchmaker Joe Silva should be "shot in the face" for the poor job he's done setting up Jackson with opponents.
Apparently, UFC President Dana White has had enough and called "Rampage" on his bluff.
Rua, meanwhile, has already gone on the record that this rematch was "inevitable," even after Jackson's self-destructing week in the "Land of the Rising Sun." In addition to coming in six pounds too heavy, complaining about injuries sustained in training and then revealing he'd undergone Testosterone Replacement Therapy (TRT) to heal quicker, Jackson looked uninspired and a shell of his former intimidating self.
He's certainly not the fighter who got whooped by the Brazilian nearly seven years ago. And neither is Rua, however, who has recorded an unremarkable record (4-4) since entering the Octagon back in 2007. Sure, one of those wins -- over Lyoto Machida -- was for the division title; however, he's certainly not the hellraiser he was in the early days of his professional career.
Regardless, with the old school rivalry, as well as the the fact that this will be Jackson's "farewell fight," fans will undoubtedly be watching this one intently.
And likely all of them for different reasons.