Many things have changed since Mauricio Rua and Dan Henderson collided for the first time in the UFC on Nov. 19, 2011, and they now prepare to meet again inside the Octagon at UFC Fight Night 38 in Natal, Brazil.
"Shogun" had just bounced back from the Jon Jones fight with a first-round beating of Forrest Griffin when he entered the cage against Henderson, who was returning to the UFC after racking up vicious knockouts over Fedor Emelianenko, Rafael Cavalcante and Renato Sobral at Strikeforce.
The Brazilian is now coming off a quick win against James Te Huna in December, but Henderson is looking to get back on track now following three consecutive losses. "Shogun", however, doesn’t expect Henderson to play it safe in Brazil on March 23.
"He's a tough opponent and comes forward all the time," Rua told MMAFighting.com. "He’s a specialist in the striking game and I’m sure he’ll try that against me. It’s going to be an interesting fight.
"We're both aggressive fighters, we don’t go there to play it safe, so it’s going to be a great fight. The first fight with Dan Henderson was a war, everybody loved it. Every MMA fan wants to see it again and, God willing, I’ll get out with the win this time."
Henderson fought "Shogun" in his home state of California in 2011, but now travels to Brazil to rematch the former light-heavyweight champion.
"Fighting at home is better," the Brazilian said. "There’s no time zone changes, no climate changes. It’s way better. I’m happy to be fighting in Brazil again against a guy like Dan Henderson, someone that I respect a lot.
"Shogun" says he "already swallowed" the close decision loss to Henderson in 2011, but still disagrees with the judges.
"I can't do anything about it, but I think a draw would have been fairer," he said. "But it's in the past. I’m focused on March 23 now."
"It's a rematch, and I’m going there to get a win. I will go for the finish all the time. Everybody knows that that’s how I fight, so I’m going for the knockout."
"I’ve already started my training camp in Sao Paulo," he said. "Eduardo Alonso is taking care of everything I need, so I just focus on my training. I feel very comfortable there."