Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) returns to Brazil this upcoming weekend, with a fight card revolving around the cream of the country's crop.
UFC Fight Night 38: "Henderson vs. Shogun 2" takes place this Sunday night (March 23, 2014) at Nelio Dias Gymnasium in Natal, Brazil, and features two familiar foes duking it out for a second time in a five-round affair.
In a battle of former PRIDE FC Grand Prix winners, Dan Henderson looks for a second win over Mauricio Rua in a rematch of their historic UFC 139 main event. "Hendo" tries to snap a three-fight losing skid, while Rua tries to make it two-straight wins in UFC since 2009, after failing to rack up a pair of victories in nine fights since then.
Also on the card, Cezar Ferreira goes up against the gritty C.B. Dollaway in the co-main event. The fight card can be seen on FOX Sports 1 (FS1), with the "prelims" exclusively on UFC Fight Pass.
Check out our "Five Burning Questions" heading into these fights in Natal:
5. Do you even know there's an event on Sunday night?
Behold! UFC returns to Brazil this Sunday, headlined by two men you didn't need to see beat on each other's heads again. UFC could have waited to book Henderson against Shogun, since "Hendo" is trying to shake off three-straight losses, while Rua is 2-2 since their original meeting.
Was this a cheaply-made headliner, or do we merit seeing it once more nearly three years later? Better yet, where's the promotion for this event? Is there any excitement whatsoever for the rest of the card?
To attempt answering these questions, this writer knows there's an event on Sunday, because it's his job. But, many of you also have great jobs, and chances are you go back to them on Monday morning. If this is going to be another marathon card oversees ending later than we would like it to, a number of recording devices will be rolling so everyone can watch it on Tuesday evening with a TV dinner.
4. Will Cezar Ferreira ever be more than just a mid-carder outside of Brazil?
"Mutante" has made a name for himself after winning the first season of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF): Brazil -- in Brazil.
Out of his nine professional fights, he's fought outside of his homeland twice. Once against Chaun Sims (whoever that is) at Ring of Fire 40 in Colorado, and also against Elvis Mutapcic at Superior Cage Combat 2 in Las Vegas.
It seems like Ferreira is being touted as one of Brazil's brightest middleweight prospects, since he's fought all three of his UFC bouts in the country, each of them being a noteworthy performance.
That's all fine and dandy, but if "Mutante" wants to reach an abundance of fans outside of his native land, he needs to start taking fights elsewhere.
Obviously, promoting countrymen and women wherever UFC brings their show is imperative, although, ask your friend who has a general knowledge of the sport who in the hell Cezar Ferreira is and you'll see what I mean.
3. Was this the best fight available for "Shogun?"
I'm not trying to say "Hendo" is superior to "Shogun," or that Rua should be scared of his opponent.
Take a look at some of the names Rua has faced in his last 10 fights: Lyoto Machida, Jon Jones, Alexander Gustafsson, Chael Sonnen, Chuck Liddell and Dan Henderson, just to name a few.
He's 6-6 in the promotion, losing very lopsided fights to Gustafsson and Sonnen not too long ago. Factor that in with the brain damage he sustained against Henderson at the end of 2011 in the main event of UFC 139, and you wonder why "Shogun" didn't take a different direction when determining his next opponent.
He just came off a near manslaughter of James Te Huna ... so why pick "Hendo," someone he already lost to in the most grueling fight of his life?
He could have tested his might against the likes of Ryan Bader, Rafael Cavalcante, or even Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, in a rematch of their beyond epic PRIDE FC Critical Countdown 2005 bout.
"Shogun" didn't have to take an easier fight, just not one he's been in before.
2. What happens to Dan Henderson if he loses?
Standing at 0-3 (including being knocked out for the first time ever), the former PRIDE FC titleholder has signed a new deal with the company, citing a much lower paycheck than what he is used to making.
Let's assume the deal is worth more than just one fight, too.
If the 43-year-old fighter still thinks he has a future in this sport, he will need to do so without the use of testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) after this bout, and apparently, returning to natural form is quite the issue.
If Henderson loses his fourth bout in a row (even though bouts against Lyoto Machida and Rashad Evans were close), what does the future hold for this legend?
Would it even be smart to book him in another fight?
Depending on how the fight with Rua materializes, there could be a future rubber match, but we could also be talking ahead of ourselves here.
1. Will Henderson vs. Shogun 2 be anything like their first fight?
On November 19, 2011, at HP Pavilion in San Jose, California, some will argue they saw the best mixed martial arts (MMA) fight of all time. Henderson took a unanimous decision victory over Rua in one of the most enthralling, back-and-forth slugfests we have ever seen in UFC.
The five-round fight undoubtedly goes down as one of the most memorable fights ever, and you could say it was one of the greatest bouts ever contested, if not the best.
We turn the page years later, and both athletes are in similar situations. Their best years are behind them, with both "Hendo" and "Shogun" way outside of the title picture at 205 pounds.
This fight could go down exactly like the first one did, or it could be vastly different. It could be over in 30 seconds, or it could be a dull affair for 25 minutes.
If it's anything like their first fight, maybe they should embrace and retire together when it's all said and done, because UFC 139's main event was fun, but also painful to watch.
Time will tell.
Check out the finalized UFC Fight Night 38: "Henderson vs. Shogun 2" fight card right here.