It's not the best rematch the UFC has ever staged, but it does carry importance as Mauricio Rua and Dan Henderson meet in the Octagon since their Fight of the Year bout in 2011. The stakes this time are different as Henderson hasn't won since that fight and Shogun has been, at best, inconsistent. The question this bout answers is what's left of the two. A fourth loss would be devastating for Henderson while a defeat for Shogun could spell the end of his career or a move to middleweight.
Will Henderson be able to repeat? Does Shogun have enough left to turn the tide this time? I answer these questions and more with my predictions for Sunday's fights.
What: UFC Fight Night 38: Shogun vs. Henderson
Where: Ginásio Nélio Dias, Natal, Brazil
When: Sunday, the two-fight Fight Pass card starts at 4 p.m. ET, the four-fight Fox Sports 1 card starts at 5 p.m. and the six-fight main card starts on Fox Sports 1 at 7 p.m.
Mauricio Rua vs. Dan Henderson
I distinctly recall heading into their first fight I wasn't sure what to expect. I knew they were both more likely to stand and strike rather than operate on the mat, but I couldn't quite get a mental image of what it would look like. As the fight unfolded, I felt sort of vindicated. I couldn't picture what their fight would look like because the marriage of their styles at that time in their careers was a combustible mix producing a reaction almost too impossible to believe.
This time around I get a semi-similar feeling, but I just don't know where the bottom drops out on these two. Their first fight was a war and I'm not sure either was ever the same afterward. Henderson hasn't won since and while Rua has, it hasn't looked all that great, his last performance notwithstanding.
So what's going to happen here? I expect early it will resemble their first fight, but I don't trust their resiliency here. Neither has the ability to absorb damage like they once did. Henderson was the first to strike in their initial encounter, so I'd like to give him the benefit of the doubt he'll repeat in their second meeting. Instead, I think Rua finds a way to make Henderson pay early in close range.
Mutante looks the part, but I'm convinced he is playing it. Dollaway has also had his fair share of issues, but has shown a surprising resiliency in fights of late. I think he'll drag Mutante into deep waters in the later rounds and take over with better cardio and mat wrestling.
In terms of being a fact finding mission about the actual upside of either fighter, this is a decent scrap. Parke has looked good enough in the UFC, but clearly lacks finishing skills. Santos has all the submission ability anyone could ask for, but not much else. I'll give the nod to Parke on two accounts. One, he's the more well-rounded fighter, which includes defense. Santos' takedowns are not good. Second, Parke also perseveres. Santos might be able to put him in a bad spot or two, but I trust Parke's ability to hang on.
It's basically impossible to know what's going to happen here except that Maldonado will have absolutely no real strategy and throw caution to the wind. On that, we can rely. Whatever the ability of Villante, if he's patient and disciplined, this is his fight to lose.
Michel Prazerus vs. Mairbek Taisumov
Prazerus can't win unless this is on the ground. As long as Taisumov can a) stop the takedown or b) last on the ground, Prazerus is likely to gas. This is the sort of fight I think belongs on a regional or tier two promotion, but whatever.
Rony Jason vs. Steven Siler
Siler ran into road blocks in Dennis Bermudez and Darren Elkins, but it turns out those might be two of the better guys in the division. For all those difficulties, however, he's actually got some talent. He's a good guard player, scrambler, scores damage in the clinch and so on. Jason, to me, is a decent jiu-jitsu player who brawls. I'm betting Siler has more than he can handle.
From the preliminary card:
Diego Brandao over Will Chope - fight has been called off
Ronny Markes over Thiago Santos
Jussier Formiga under Scott Jorgensen
Thiago Perpetuo under Kenny Robertson
Francimar Barroso under Hans Stringer
Godofredo Pepey over Nohad Lahat