Mauricio Shogun Rua

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Two men who will be stepping into the Octagon against one another in just over a week’s time are Shogun Rua and Chuck Liddell. Shogun believes that Chuck won’t see the same version of Rua that Mark Coleman was witness to in his last fight.

When I fought (Mark) Coleman, like it or not I stayed almost a year and a half on the sidelines and that took a lot out of my training and conditioning. I can say that right now I’m feeling much more prepared physically and psychologically for this fight against Chuck (Liddell). Sometimes when we’re at home we get a little distracted and don’t push ourselves to the limit. So I think moving to a new place to train got me 100 percent focused on the fight and I can tell that I feel much more prepared and in condition for this fight.

Both fighters have been less than spectacular recently, but both seem to have reinvented themselves overnight. It should be interesting to see who comes out on top with a rejuvenated career to look forward to as 2009 continues.

Before we reach UFC 97, however, Shamrock and Diaz will enter the cage for Strikeforce and play-by-play announcer Gus Johnson believes that it should be a wild affair.

Shamrock-Diaz is an incredible fight. It’s like a young lion versus an old lion. Frank’s getting older. He’s had injuries. Diaz is hungry and hot and as good on the ground as Frank is on his feet. Nick is tall, long and has some power. It will be a major challenge for Frank, but we are talking about Frank Shamrock; A legend and master strategist who’ll push Nick like he’s never been pushed before. He’s so smart, I expect Shamrock to physically take away some of Diaz’s advantages. Frank is nasty in the cage. He’s kind of a mad scientist when it comes to this beautiful sport. He’s going to try and punish Nick and prove that the old lion still runs the pack. With this fight in San Jose, the neighboring town for Nick and the hometown of Frank, it is going to be an electric atmosphere.

Though it won’t do much for the rankings of either fighter, both men should be at their best come Saturday night. This is a fight that mixed martial arts fans are definitely looking forward to and hopefully it won’t disappoint.

Also on the Strikeforce card is Benji Radach, who just happens to only train part-time.

It really takes a fighter out of training, man, it’s really hard for me to do it anymore. I used to do it all the time when I was fighting in the UFC and stuff. I was an electrician and I trained at night, you know, and it just takes so much out of you that you don’t even really enjoy it anymore. You get burned out really fast. But I took this last two weeks off of work so that I could focus on training, so I should be good to go.

John Howard was not impressed with Anthony Johnson‘s speculation on why the two would not be squaring off at the TUF 9 finale.

I don’t appreciate him calling me a coward or anything like that. He has to understand that the decisions that are made for me are smart decisions. My job is to fight. I don’t make decisions about who to fight or when I’m going to fight, and I don’t pull out of fights … Anthony Johnson has been in the UFC a little longer than me, and it’s not because I’m a coward (that the fight was nixed); it just wasn’t time…. I want to fight him, and the first chance I get the OK to fight him, I will. And he’s going to eat his words, definitely. It’s personal. He’s going to regret ever questioning me.

Maybe it’s not at the level of Hughes/Serra or Lauzon/Franca quite yet, but hopefully these two are able to settle their differences sooner than later.

Finally, Anderson Silva has recently commented on his future outside of mixed martial arts and it’s nice to hear what he has planned while he remains with the UFC. Set to defend his middleweight strap on April 18th, Silva also has thoughts on his future with the organization.

I would definitely love to step up and fight again at 205. Of course, that’s going to depend on the results after April 18, and it’s also going to depend on Dana White. At the end of the day he makes the calls on that type of stuff. But as far as fighting at 205 I would love the opportunity to fight there again. As for right now, I’m focused on April 18.

With such a long list of top contenders in the middleweight division at this point it’ll be interesting to see if White wants ‘The Spider’ to move up again for a big fight, especially with the prospect of a match with Georges St. Pierre on the horizon.

You’ve heard what they’ve been saying, now what do you all think about it? Sound off in the comments.