There was a lot of doubt and uncertainty surrounding Mauricio Rua heading into his last fight against James Te Huna at UFC Fight Night 33, and "Shogun" silenced those critics in highlight-reel fashion.
The former light heavyweight champion had dropped three of his last four heading into his tilt in Brisbane, and the slump evoked talk that the MMA legend had fallen out of elite-level status. Some suggested a drop down to the middleweight division was in order, but Rua's brutal first-round knockout of the Aussie put all the speculation on ice in a big way.
The Brazilian Muay Thai wrecking machine put himself back on the 205-pound radar, which has drawn the attention of another top-tier light heavyweight in Phil Davis.
"Mr. Wonderful" has put together a solid run as of late, collecting three consecutive victories over tough competition. That level of success has put him on the verge of breaking into title contention, but with the championship tied up for the time being, the Team Alliance fighter is going to need another big win to move him closer to the crown.
And it looks like he has his sights set on the former Chute Boxe fighter for his next challenge.
On Wednesday night's installment of UFC Tonight, Ariel Helwani reported that coach Eric Del Fierro said Davis wants to face Rua in his next outing. Del Fierro said his fighter was healthy and aiming for a return in early 2014, and that he wants a fight with Rua.
Both fighters are staples in the crowded upper tier of one of the most competitive divisions, and the matchup makes sense in the divisional hierarchy. With Jon Jones and Glover Teixeira's title bout coming in the first quarter of 2014 and the matchup between Rashad Evans and Daniel Cormier recently being announced for UFC 170 in February, Davis and Rua are the odd men out in the title race.
A bout between them would keep things moving in the title race at 205 pounds. The winner would certainly take a step closer to earning a title opportunity.
Duane Finley is a featured columnist for Bleacher Report.
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