A battle of former UFC champions has been signed for UFC: RIO. Mauricio Shogun Rua vs. Forrest Griffin 2 will co-headline the event with Anderson Silva vs. Yushin Okami. Brazil’s two biggest MMA stars will get the opportunity to avenge previous losses on the same night at UFC 134.
The battle of former UFC light heavyweight champions gives Shogun Rua the opportunity to avenge the loss he suffered to Griffin in his first UFC fight. Shogun came into the UFC with a lot of hype and fanfare but failed to come close to delivering at UFC 76. Griffin choked out Rua in the third round of the fight to spoil Rua’s debut and upset the former PRIDE FC champion. The fight spring boarded Griffin to a light heavyweight title match against Rampage Jackson which saw Griffin win the championship.
Forrest Griffin will continue his tour of battling ex-UFC champions at UFC 134. Griffin is coming off of back to back wins over former UFC champions Tito Ortiz and Rich Franklin. Griffin’s last fight, a unanimous decision win over Rich Franklin saw him dominate Franklin with his size and speed. Griffin did the same against Tito Ortiz in his previous fight, but was less convincing. Griffin is looking for his first three-fight win streak in three years.
Their first fight at UFC 76 was a war and a turning point in the career of Forrest Griffin. Rua came in with all of the videos and hype from Pride FC. The UFC 76 odds had Griffin as a +250 underdog to Rua who was a -300 favorite. Rua came out strong early but Griffin held his own and gained confidence throughout the fight. Rua cut Griffin badly in the second round from an elbow but Forrest continued to fight back. Rua appeared to be gassed by the middle of round two and started to fade. Griffin came out inspired in the third round and caught Rua with a rear naked choke for the win with less than a minute to go in the fight for the upset.
On paper, Shogun should take this one. I think he is too good all around for Griffin. Griffin is a big light heavyweight and will likely try to utilize his size. On their feet, Shogun is faster and more skilled than Forrest. Forrest only has one TKO or KO in the last six years. He doesn’t finish guys on their feet. His best chance is on the ground which again, will see him at a disadvantage against Rua. Both men are undefeated in rematches, but I just can’t see Rua losing to Griffin in his home country.
A loss to either guy at this point would be huge. Granted, neither guy is getting cut with a loss but a defeat would set either guy back far away from future opportunities at the UFC light heavyweight championship. Griffin’s wins against two aging fighters doesn’t impress me too much. Yet a win against Rua on his home soil would be huge to me. I would imagine that the victory would almost guarantee him either a title shot or a fight against Rampage Jackson for the number one contender.
The additional fight gives the show some incredible star power for the UFC’s return to Rio. The show isn’t until late August so depending upon the results of Lyoto Machida vs. Randy Couture, it would not surprise me to see Machida added to the event. Vitor Belfort is also hanging around with no opponent at the moment. The atmosphere in the building for the return of Brazil’s conquering heroes should make this one exciting UFC event.
UFC 134 takes place in Rio de Janerio, Brazil in the HSBC Arena on August 27, 2011.
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