The top MMA organization in the world continues to pluck Strikeforce champions like they’re feathers from a bird. First it was Nick Diaz, then two weeks ago it was Alistair Overeem, and today it’s Strikeforce light heavyweight champion Dan Henderson. Ready to welcome him back to the octagon is one of the most exciting light heavyweights in the world, former UFC 205 lb champion Mauricio Rua. The two light heavyweights have agreed to do battle at UFC 139 in San Jose.
News of the bout was first reported by MMAWeekly.com and has since been confirmed by the UFC.
“Hendo” is no stranger to the octagon, having two prior runs under his belt. He first competed at UFC 17 back in 1998, winning the one night middleweight tournament before heading off to Japan, where he made a name for himself in PRIDE with victories over the likes Wanderlei Silva and Vitor Belfort. He returned to the UFC at UFC 75, taking on Quinton Jackson in a UFC light heavyweight title vs. PRIDE light heavyweight title fight and followed that up with a bout against Anderson Silva in a fight that merged the UFC and PRIDE middleweight titles. Despite losing both bouts, Henderson rebounded and won three straight in the UFC, defeating Rousimar Palhares, Rich Franklin, and Michael Bisping.
Failing to reach a new contract with the UFC, Henderson headed to Strikeforce, where he immediately challenged Jake Shields for the middleweight strap. Not having the conditioning at 185 to defeat Shields, Henderson moved up to 205 where he knocked out Renato Sobral and Rafael Cavalcante to capture to the light heavyweight belt. In his most recent fight, Henderson stopped Fedor Emelianenko in the first round, pounding him out with his famous right hand, dubbed by some as the “H Bomb.”
Now the Team Quest pioneer will get another crack at a former PRIDE superstar when he takes on “Shogun” Rua, fresh off his victory over Forrest Griffin. In that bout, Rua received a hero’s welcome at UFC 134 in Brazil and avenged his first UFC loss against Griffin. The former UFC champ has had a storied MMA career that includes winning the PRIDE light heavyweight grand prix in 2005 and becoming the first man to beat Lyoto Machida to win in the UFC belt in 2010. Rua holds wins against some of the best fighters in the sports history, including Ricardo Arona, Quinton Jackson, Chuck Liddell, and Alistair Overeem.
The bout will headline UFC 139 and will have major title implications. Also on the card, which takes place on November 19 at the HP Pavilion in San Jose, California is a middleweight bout between Vitor Belfort and Cung Le.
*PHOTO CREDIT – STRIKEFORCE*