According to various media outlets, Mauricio “Shogun” Rua has emerged as the front-runner to be light heavyweight champ Lyoto Machida’s first-ever UFC title defense.
MMAWeekly.com confirmed with sources close to the situation that Shogun has already agreed in “principle” to the title clash, which will take place sometime this fall.
On Thursday’s conference call, UFC president Dana White announced that former 205-pound champs Quinton “Rampage” Jackson and Rashad Evans will coach opposite each other on the 10th season of “The Ultimate Fighter,” and that he was in the process of locating Machida’s next opponent.
“(Machida) will fight,” White stated yesterday. “We’re working on it right now. As soon as it’s signed, I’ll announce it… which I’m hoping will be today or tomorrow.”
Traditionally, TUF coaches square-off at the conclusion of filming. However, rumors swirled that this season, Rampage would film the show, then move on to challenge Machida for his belt.
White promised his buddy a title shot after he defeated Keith Jardine at UFC 96, however Rampage opted to rest instead. By having him film TUF, then fight Machida, he still gets dibs on Machida’s strap and the UFC can use “TUF 10” to build up a blockbuster Evans/Rampage fight down the line.
However, that no longer seems to be the case as the UFC has decided to move forward with an all-Brazilian light heavyweight title affair between Machida and Shogun.
What really got the rumor mill churning was when White tweeted the following message on Tuesday, which included a pic of Shogun, “Look who’s in the office today!!!”
It was at that time that SuperLutas.com, a popular Portuguese website, claimed that Shogun not only signed his bout agreement to face Machida, but he also signed an extension to remain with the world’s biggest MMA organization.
After his knockout of former UFC champ Chuck Liddell at UFC 97, Shogun proved to the mixed martial arts world that he has returned to his pre-knee surgery form, a place where he dominated the world rankings even though he never held a major title.
Shogun recently gave Machida props for his special performance at UFC 98. However, he respectfully expressed his desire to hand Machida his first professional loss.
“Lyoto was phenomenal, beat Rashad and proved he’s the best of this division,” Shogun told TATAME.com. “I’d love to (fight him), he’s a top guy. I wanna fight the best.”
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