It wasn’t even an hour into the start of his reign as UFC light heavyweight champion before Mauricio “Shogun” Rua was asked about facing two blockbuster opponents.
While appearing as a guest on ESPN2’s MMA Live immediately following his victory, Rua was questioned about the possibility of fights with former champion Rashad Evans, who happened to be sitting a couple inches from Shogun, and current 185-pound king holder Anderson Silva.
Since he was moments removed from accomplishing the biggest feat of his professional career, it was a little too soon for the newly minted champ to start filling out his calendar. Evans’ UFC 114 fight with Quinton “Rampage” Jackson will certainly have an impact on the 205-pound division, so we may have to wait and see how the bitter rivalry concludes before determining Shogun’s next opponent.
While most assumed the May 29th main event would determine the division’s top contender, UFC president Dana White has not made any promises. A win for Evans could possibly yield another title shot for the former “The Ultimate Fighter,” while the company may instead decide he must avenge his loss to former champion Lyoto Machida before getting a crack at Rua.
The more interesting scenario would obviously be for Jackson to win. It would be an easy sell for the UFC, as Jackson would be out to avenge the thrashing he suffered at the hands of Rua back at “Pride Total Elimination 2005.”
Either of those scenarios would serve well for the UFC, but it would pale in comparison to the kind of numbers a Shogun vs. Silva scrap could pull in.
Rua, who has long professed his desires to be the planet’s best fighter, has already entertained the idea of facing the fellow Brazilian. When asked if he would fight “The Spider” if the UFC came calling, Rua responded with a resounding, “Yes, of course. I’m a professional fighter.”
Remember that both Rua and Silva were teammates when the famed Chute Boxe Academy was running rampant in Pride, but that was then and this is now.
If Silva is able to successfully defend his middleweight crown against Chael Sonnen at UFC 117, fans could witness another spectacular superfight before the end of the year.