History in the making: Dan Henderson and Shogun Rua set sail for UFC with dual knockouts at PRIDE 33

Esther Lin

"As far as talent goes, I think it’s already spoken for itself as far as who the UFC’s champions are. PRIDE had some top guys. Nogueira’s in there as the [interim] champ, and he wasn’t even the champ in PRIDE anymore. Quinton Jackson was [champ] for a while, and obviously he just lost. Anderson Silva had lost in PRIDE and got booted out of there, and now he’s the UFC champ." --Dan Henderson, August 2008

I believe the expression is, "Going out with a bang."

On March 27, 2007, Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) announced that it had purchased its biggest rival, PRIDE Fighting Championship (PRIDE), after what UFC CEO Lorenzo Fertitta called a "long, drawn-out process" to merge the rival mixed martial arts (MMA) promotions.

But the writing was on the wall.

That meant any and all fighters under contract for PRIDE -- as well as those who were wrapping up their final fights for the Japanese-based organization -- wanted to put their best foot forward. After all, the grass was pretty green on the other side of the Pacific ocean.

And the matchmaking possibilities were endless.

But before any potential fantasy fights could take place, Dream Stage Entertainment (DSE) had to finish up its schedule of events. Just prior to making the UFC sale official, PRIDE made its debut in "Sin City," featuring a nine-fight card scheduled for February 27, 2007 inside the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas, Nevada.

And longtime veteran Dan Henderson was booked for the main event.

Opposing him was international "Axe Murderer" Wanderlei Silva. While the Brazilian was coming off a brutal knockout loss to Mirko Filipovic, most fight fans were willing to give him a mulligan. Wandy, despite his ferocity, was the smallest man in the semifinals of the PRIDE 2006 open weight grand prix.

Now it was time to pick on someone his own size in a rematch from PRIDE 12.

Any hope Silva had of repeating that performance went out the window midway through the third and final frame. Henderson landed his patented "H-Bomb" and Wandy was asleep before he hit the canvas. "Hendo's" last memory of PRIDE would be concussing "The Axe Murderer."

But he wasn't the only one dropping bombs in the UFC's backyard.

Elsewhere on the card, Mauricio Rua was also getting into the rematch business, agreeing to let Alistair Overeem attempt to right his wrongs in the PRIDE middleweight grand prix back in 2005, where the towering Dutchman was pounded out by "Shogun" midway through the opening round.

History has a funny way of repeating itself.

Rua once again came out with bad intentions and floored "Demolition Man" at 3:37 of round one, improving his record to 16-2 and sending "The Reem" to the heavyweight division. "Shogun" would leave the promotion the same way he came in, standing over the prone body of an opponent.

Then came his transition to the Octagon.

Like Henderson before him, Rua would prove to be hot and cold for most of his UFC career, compiling a 6-6 record across a span of nearly seven years. "Hendo," by contrast, went 4-5 (not including Strikeforce), with his last win coming over "Shogun" in a five-round death match at UFC 139.

And UFC has asked them to run it back.

They'll step into the Octagon for another five rounds just over two years after their initial go-round, now as the headlining act of UFC Fight Night 38 on FOX Sports 1, which takes place inside the Nelio Dias Gymnasium in Natal, Brazil, on Sunday, March 23, 2014.

For a look back at how they nearly killed each other at UFC 139 click here.

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