Chuck Liddell may or may not retire. Anderson Silva may or may not have apologized for his performance. But, one thing is clear. Mauricio “Shogun” Rua clearly turned in his best performance inside the Octagon since transitioning over from PRIDE.
From the Liddell fight alone, I don’t think it’s not enough to say the fighter that won the 2005 PRIDE Middleweight Grand Prix is “back,” but it’s definitely a start. The question now is: Who’s next?
There’s quite a few options out there. Clearly, the biggest ones would be rematches against two of the light heavyweight division’s elite fighters—Quinton “Rampage” Jackson and Forrest Griffin.
Shogun decimated Rampage back in PRIDE, but it’s extremely unlikely that the rematch would resemble their first fight. Rampage is a different fighter now, and I’d expect it to be a much more competitive. In order for this fight to happen though, Rampage would have to risk losing his title shot, and I’m not sure that’s something he’d be willing to do, although, I don’t think he would mind the opportunity to avenge what was arguably his most one-sided loss.
Forrest Griffin is another rematch I think that has to happen at some point. Anyone who has followed Shogun’s career knows he was not himself in his UFC debut. Not to take away anything Forrest did that night, but I’d like to see if he can duplicate that success against a Shogun who’s 100%. The problem with this rematch is Forrest is scheduled to face Thiago Silva at UFC 101 meaning Rua would have to sit out till the end of the year, and I’m not sure that’s the best thing for a fighter who’s finally getting his rhythm back.
Of course, these aren’t the only options for Shogun. The UFC could always book him against fellow strikers such as Luiz Cane, Brandon Vera or Keith Jardine. I’ve also seen Anderson Silva’s name thrown out there.
Personally, I’d like to see him return to action as soon as possible against either Vera or Jardine (I wouldn’t complain about Silva, but I doubt that will happen), and if he wins, book him against Forrest at the end of year if he defeats Thiago Silva.
What do you think? Who do you want to see Shogun fight next?
Image courtesy of SI.com.
Update: I forgot Brandon Vera is reportedly scheduled to face Matt Hamill at UFC 102, so scratch that idea.
Update II: Shogun wants Forrest rematch.
“Nobody spoke yet (about my next fight), but my goal is to win the next one. I’m already focused for the next fight. I’ll fight anyone, but a rematch (with Forrest Griffin) would be welcome. He’s a good fighter and it’d be a good fight. I’ll fight anyone, but it’d be cool to fight him again, I’d love it”.