The UFC appears set to offer their own unique brand of fist-pumping to the fair citizens of New Jersey early next year with a main-event caliber match-up already attached to the event featuring Mauricio “Shogun” Rua putting his light heavyweight belt on the line against former champion Rashad Evans at the Prudential Center on March 19 in Newark
The pairing of top-ranked 205ers was initially reported by Canadian news outlet SportsNet. The show will mark the UFC’s third trip to the arena, including an earlier card headlined by Evans taking on fellow Ultimate Fighter season-winner Michael Bisping. Though no number has been officially announced for the date it is believed the card will be UFC 129 based on other planned events.
The bout will mark Rua’s first defense of the belt since winning it by way of first-round knockout against Lyoto Machida in May, then subsequently being sidelined in order to repair ligament damage in his left knee. The renowned Brazilian is 3-2 in the UFC, but 19-4 overall in his career including wins over Chuck Liddell, Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, and Strikeforce heavyweight champ Alistair Overeem (both by way of knockout).
The 15-1-1 Evans will enter the title-bout coming off a pair of decision victories in 2010 with “Rampage” and Thiago Silva on the losing end of the judges’ scorecards and has only been beaten a single time in his seventeen-fight career. In addition to both respected competitors, “Suga” ‘Shad has experienced in-ring success in the past against Liddell, Stephan Bonnar, and of course Griffin who he ultimately won the light heavyweight championship from at UFC 92 in December 2008.
The action unfolding in Newark should be intriguing to say the least based on the fighters’ opposing styles. Evans is known primarily as a wrestler who prefers to control action while occasionally offering precise, powerful punches. Eight of his fifteen wins have been the result of a decision and he also has a draw on his record. Comparably, Rua brings an arsenal into the ring featuring an assortment of dynamic strikes born of his Muay Thai base with sixteen of his nineteen total wins coming via TKO.