Back in 2011, Jon Anik had just agreed to a contract with the UFC and was cast Octagon-side to call a “mock” fight.
That bout was the epic battle between Mauricio “Shogun” Rua and Dan Henderson that took place at UFC 139, with Henderson earning a decision in what many considered the “Fight of the Year.”
Anik, and Brian Stann, will be on the call Sunday night from Brazil for the rematch at UFC Fight Night 38.
“When I got hired, part of the process was auditioning with several fighters. I was sitting Octagon-side calling the UFC 139 pay-per-view with Frank Mir,” said Anik, in an interview with FightLine. “It was just incredible. Being on the job two weeks and to see that fight from that seat.”
While everyone is hoping to see a repeat, Anik is more of a realist. He feels that war will be very difficult for the two legends to duplicate.
“It’s a tough act to follow,” he said. “I don’t expect the second fight to have too much similarities.
“I don’t think we’ll see five rounds. On FOX Sports 1, I think we’ll see a finish.”
That initial contest took place in California, which is Henderson’s native home. Anik feels it is “only fitting” the rematch goes down on Rua’s home soil.
It also comes at a critical time in the career of both fighters, as each still hold title-aspirations.
“I feel the loser of this fight probably won’t get back to a title fight (in the UFC),” he said. “The time has to be now.
“I think for Hendo, it will be interesting to see how he deals with the adversity of a three-fight losing streak and being finished (by Vitor Belfort).”
Henderson (29-11) actually hasn’t been declared a winner since the Rua victory, dropping a pair of split decisions to former UFC champs Lyoto Machida and Rashad Evans.
Rua (22-8) is coming off a highlight-reel knockout of James Te Huna that snapped a two-fight losing skid.
“What he did to James Te Huna….it was a scary visual,” Anik said. “Te Huna just became nothing, crumbling to the canvas.
“Shogun’s power is alive and well, and Hendo has to be careful of that.”
A bout Anik is especially looking forward to seeing is Norman Parke vs. Leonardo Santos, as he was given a close look at Parke while watching The Ultimate Fighter: The Smashes.
“Maybe I’m a little biased because of The Smashes and working some of his fights, but I think Norman is one of the elite strikers in the lightweight division,” Anik said. “I am surprised he doesn’t get that much credit in the UFC and the U.S., because he is in Europe.
“He hits with volume, is hard to take down, has a judo background and I think he can shine. He has a tough test in Leonardo Santos, who is one of the best pure grapplers.”
Michel Prazeres vs. Mairbek Taisumov and Rony Jason vs. Steven Siler are also bouts Anik mentioned as key ones fans need to keep an eye on.