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UFC 93: Will Shogun Rua-Mark Coleman Winner Fight Chuck Liddell at UFC 96?

All indications are that Chuck Liddell will return to the Octagon at UFC 96 on March 7 in Columbus, but we don't know who his opponent will be. Liddell himself has said that he wants to fight Keith Jardine, but Jardine's camp has indicated that Jardine will be fighting someone other than Liddell on that card, and during the FanHouse chat with UFC President Dana White, White didn't sound particularly enthused about the possibility of a Liddell-Jardine rematch.

So if Liddell's next opponent won't be Jardine, who will it be? One possibility that would make a lot of sense is the winner of the January 17 UFC 93 co-main event between Mauricio "Shogun" Rua and Mark Coleman getting Liddell at UFC 96. If it's Shogun, that would give MMA fans a fight we've been wanting to see for years. And if it's Coleman, that would give the former NCAA wrestling champion at Ohio State a chance to perform in front of the fans in Columbus again.

The problem with this is that there's only seven weeks between UFC 93 and UFC 96. But Shogun and Coleman have both been out of action for so long that they'll likely be itching to get back into the Octagon as soon as they can after their January fight. Shogun, in particular, is only 27 years old and has a history in Pride of fighting very well after short layoffs. If Josh Koscheck can fight on October 25 and again on December 10, Shogun can fight on January 17 and again on March 7.

Of course, if the Shogun-Coleman winner suffers any kind of injury, there won't be any way for him to return to the Octagon in seven weeks, In that case, the UFC is fairly limited in its pool of potential opponents for Liddell. It almost certainly won't be any of the light heavyweights who fought at UFC 92; the UFC would love to have Liddell fight Forrest Griffin or Wanderlei Silva, but all indications are that neither of them will be ready.

It probably won't be the winner of the UFC 93 main event between Rich Franklin and Dan Henderson because White wants to get the winner of that one prepared to coach against Michael Bisping in Season 9 of The Ultimate Fighter. It also won't be Anderson Silva; White confirmed that Silva is fighting in April when the UFC returns to Canada.

And that means it might end up being Jardine after all, by default. Michael Rome has more on this subject.

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