UFC 149: Power Ranking 4 Potential New Opponents for Shogun Rua
With the announcement that Thiago Silva has had to withdraw from his UFC 149 battle with Shogun Rua, the UFC needs to act quick in order to find a high level opponent and give him enough time for a proper training camp.
Shogun is a dangerous striker who also holds a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. With knockout wins over Lyoto Machida, Chuck Liddell and Rampage Jackson, Rua is undoubtedly one of the best light-heavyweights in the world. Finding an opponent won't be easy.
Here is a look at some potential opponents for Shogun, ranked based on how big of a matchup they would create.
Author's Note: This list originally contained three names and was edited after considering a fourth candidate.
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Stephan Bonnar didn't get the Ultimate Fighter coaching gig that he wanted, but he is still on a three-fight winning streak and is in the favor of the UFC brass.
Bonnar doesn't have several years left in the Octagon, and he wants his last few fights to be memorable. As long as he is healthy, it is likely that he will request a shot against the former champion.
"The American Psycho" is a fan favorite, and could pull off the co-main event status in this situation. The fact that he has never been submitted nor knocked out could give Shogun trouble in the later rounds, as his cardio has faded in his recent bouts.
Can Bonnar win this fight? Anything is possible. Considering that he has had a break since November and this fight is two months away, Bonnar has had plenty of time to heal up any injuries from his last contest.
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The light-heavyweight fighter made his organizational debut at UFC 146, where he quickly and impressively disposed of Kyle Kingsbury. Teixeira showed off his powerful striking, as well as his submission skills in the half-round contest.
Teixeira may not be on the same rung of the ladder as the former champion, but he is certainly a threat. Training with John Hackleman and Chuck Liddell out of The Pit fight team, the Brazilian is 18-2 in his career and has done well in ADCC trials; winning in 2009 and placing second in 2011.
Shogun's team is reportedly against this opponent. However, Dana White often gets what he wants.
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Who better to replace Thiago Silva than the fighter who defeated him back in April?
Swede Alexander Gustafsson has performed admirably since losing to Phil Davis more than two years ago. The young prospect is riding a five-fight winning streak against fighters like Matt Hamill, Vladimir Matyushenko and Thiago Silva.
Both fighters prefer to strike, and both men are dangerous if the fight hits the floor, although Shogun may have an advantage in both avenues.
Gustafsson has been pointed to as a potential challenge for Jon Jones in the future. Although I feel that this talk is a bit premature, a test with Shogun would put him on the fast track for an eventual title shot.
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Here is a fight with even more star power than the original.
Shogun Rua was originally scheduled to fight Rashad Evans for the UFC light-heavyweight championship before Rashad had to pull out due to injury. Jon Jones would go on to replace him and win the belt in a one-sided fight that solidified his status as the best in the world.
However, there is still a considerable amount of hype that would go into a clash of former champions.
Rashad is coming off a decision loss to Jones, and Shogun is coming off a loss in the 2011 Fight of the Year against Dan Henderson. With both fighters coming off losses to the participants of the upcoming title fight, this bout could bring both men one step closer to a shot at the belt.
One year ago, this fight was scheduled to headline a pay-per-view. In 2012, it would be a strong co-main event for a card that features a featherweight title fight between Jose Aldo and Erik Koch.