Two former PRIDE FC notables will square off once again in Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), and if their second fight looks anything like their original meeting, we may be in for another classic war in which both men should be rushed to the hospital as soon as it's over.
UFC Fight Night 38: "Shogun vs. Henderson 2" takes place at Ginasio Nelio Dias in Natal, Brazil, this Sunday night (March 23, 2014), headlined by two sluggers who know each other pretty well.
Team Quest legend Dan Henderson will be looking for a second victory against Mauricio Rua, hopeful of snapping a three-fight losing streak in the process.
"Hendo" beat "Shogun" in the main event at UFC 139 in a five-round affair deemed as (arguably) the best fight in mixed martial arts (MMA) history. The back-and-forth brawl was special to watch; yet it may go down differently a second time around.
Rua enters this fight with a 2-2 record since their first match up; his latest win being a vicious knockout against James Te Huna at UFC Fight Night 33.
Also on the card, Cezar Ferreira returns to Brazil to square off against C.B. Dollaway in the co-main event. "Mutante" is undefeated in UFC thus far, while his American counterpart is 2-3 in his last five bouts.
With the majority of this card's excitement focused on these two contests, let us look into our crystal ball and map out what a victory on Sunday night might mean for these four featured fighters.
Here we go:
Everyone needs to be realistic with "Shogun."
There's no more talking about the "old Shogun," or if Rua is a shadow of his former self, because those grueling surgeries took a toll on him.
It's either Rua can still be a force in UFC and challenge for the light heavyweight title again, or he can't.
You can't say he's not a superstar, and over the years, fans have grown to love the former PRIDE FC killer. There are no issues with him being a draw, since 90-percent of the sport's followers know what he is capable of and will always tune in to watch him fight.
But, what does a win really mean for Rua?
It's more than just revenge. That's not really what it's about. Sure, a win over "Hendo" in the rematch would be sweet, however "Shogun" hasn't won back-to-back fights since 2009, and since then, he's 4-5 in UFC.
He did hoist a light heavyweight championship during that time, but it was quickly taken away from him. Bouncing back by knocking out James Te Huna at UFC Fight Night 33 was a good way to erase the memory of being choked out by Chael Sonnen at UFC Fight Night 26 last summer, yet wins over more credible opponents are what will take him somewhere at this point.
Much like "Hendo," if Rua doesn't win this fight, his glory years are long gone and the future is unclear. He just can't be considered what he once was.
On the contrary, it's interesting to note he's never lost a rematch.
Who doesn't love Dan Henderson?
He's not a bigmouth, and he goes about his business quietly and violently, even speaking candidly when it comes to what he thinks about his employer.
Despite being classy and savage at the same time, this could be the end of the line for Henderson.
The former PRIDE FC champion has got to be feeling the pressure going into this fight. Not only has he beaten Rua once, but also if he fails to do so again, he would be 0-4 and lost in the light heavyweight shuffle.
A legend of his status can't go out like that, and if he continues to fight, where will a winless record in 2013 and 2014 take him? What type of fight can he still be a part of?
"Hendo" was supposed to fight for the light heavyweight strap at the end of 2012. If he ever wants to be included in a similar scenario again, he can't lose any fights -- not even one comparable to his close decision losses against Lyoto Machida and Rashad Evans at UFC 157 and UFC 161, respectively.
If "Hendo" can't get past "Shogun" on Sunday, you can call it a career. The question is, will he be the one pulling the plug?
"Mutante" looks like your typical fighter. Great physique, mean fighting style, tough as nails, and quite marketable in his native Brazil -- courtesy of the coverage he received on The Ultimate Fighter (TUF): "Brazil" season one, winning the whole shebang.
It's time for Ferreira to beat Dollaway, take a step outside of Brazil, fly to the United States, compete against one of its well-known stars, and become a familiar name to North American fans.
He's got all the qualities to be a great fighter moving forward in his career, yet nobody really knows who he is.
A win would help him become more popular, but he needs to escape fighting in Brazil for just a little while. He's fought there three times out of three already (3-0 in his UFC career), competing in two co-main events and in two pay-per-view (PPV) shows.
He's becoming a popular figure in his country, and that's cool -- especially with the whole global expansion thing. He should work on gaining popularity on an international scale, because he's more than capable of it.
The most important thing for Dollaway in this fight is that he needs to give us a reason to still care.
"The Doberman" isn't too old (30) to still make an impact in the sport, yet it seems like a run for the middleweight title or a significant fight to further elevate his career may never happen.
The TUF 7 finalist had some good exposure over the years, fighting in co-main events and showcased fights on the "prelims," but somehow, he's got to stand out from the rest. His toughness shouldn't be overlooked, since he is one of the grittiest competitors in the entire middleweight division.
On the flip side, he's not really exciting or unique, either.
He just hasn't won the big fight. His biggest wins were against Jason Miller at UFC 146 and then Daniel Sarafian at UFC on FX 7 last year. He's still 2-3 in his last five any way you slice it and despite his job potentially being on the line, if he fails to impress onlookers, then a victory won't do much for his career. At least in the short term.
Anyone think otherwise?
For complete previews, updates, and more concerning UFC Fight Night 38: "Shogun vs. Henderson 2," check out our live story stream right here.