The UFC returns to Brazil this weekend for one of the biggest fight cards the promotion has ever put on, UFC 134, which is also being dubbed “UFC Rio.”
11 of the 12 scheduled fights will include at least one Brazilian fighter, including three fights in which both competitors are from the host country. The nationality of the fighters alone doesn’t guarantee that these fights are going to be great, but the fans will certainly be loving the way that the UFC has set-up this event for their viewing enjoyment.
But not everyone was invited to entertain at the party. In fact, there are a few top-level fighters and legends who will not be competing at this very important event.
Certainly timing, and the total number of fighters that can be on a card, has to be taken into account, but these five fighters are ones who many would agree should have been included in the UFC 134 festivities.
He may not be the most well-known fighter, but Carlos Eduardo Rocha has the talent to be one of the next great 170-pounders.
He dominated the competition in Germany, where he has spent most of his career training, assembling an 8-0 record in the sport prior to his UFC debut at UFC 122. He was successful in that fight as well, as he quickly submitted Kris McCray with a kneebar.
Joe Silva and the matchmakers within the UFC obviously saw a ton of potential in their new competitor, as they set him up to fight another one of their top up-and-coming welterweights, Jake Ellenberger. The two did battle at UFC 126 in a very close back-and-forth fight that fell almost dead even on the judges’ scorecards, but Rocha ended up losing a split decision.
Still, the fact that he nearly defeated one of the UFC’s top welterweights should have earned him a spot on this card.
A former top light heavyweight in Pride, “Little Nog” has struggled recently in the UFC, dropping back-to-back fights against Ryan Bader and Phil Davis.
It wasn’t always that bad, though. He had won his first two fights in the Octagon and was on a five fight win streak before that. The victories put him as a consensus top-10 light heavyweight in the world.
So what now? Two defeats and he’s left off of this extremely important card?
Of course, he was scheduled to battle Rich Franklin earlier this month at UFC 133, but was forced out of the fight with a shoulder injury. But that should just go further in proving that he should have been scheduled to fight on the same card as his brother!
Sure, the injury would’ve knocked him out of the event anyway, but it’s the principle of the thing.
Ah yes, the grandfather of jiu-jitsu within the UFC, Royce Gracie.
Gracie has been linked to the Rio fight card on numerous occasions, and it even sounded as if he was going to be fighting at one point. Specifically, the UFC Hall of Famer made mention that he would like to avenge the only loss he hadn’t avenged up to this point, against fellow Hall of Famer Matt Hughes. Then there were even rumors that he might fight another Hall of Famer, Ken Shamrock.
But none of that happened as UFC President Dana White put the kibosh on the entire idea of a “legends” fight fairly early.
Still, wouldn’t it be fun to see one? Just one?
Prior to the first loss of his career, against Mauricio “Shogun” Rua in May 2010, Lyoto Machida was almost unanimously considered to be the best light heavyweight fighter in the world. He was so good that there were even rumblings of him pushing to be one of the best of all-time.
But back-to-back losses to Rua and Quinton “Rampage” Jackson suddenly knocked the Brazilian off of his podium, and into a very different place. No longer was he the best. Now people were beginning to ask, “What happened?” There were even rumors that he could be cut if he lost his next fight.
He got the chance at redemption, though, when he battled former two-division champion Randy Couture at UFC 129. “The Dragon” rose to the occasion with a crushing front-kick that knocked out the legendary Couture early in the second round. That fight happened four months ago and Machida isn’t scheduled to fight again until December.
The world’s top 145-pounder missed his chance to compete on the first UFC card in Brazil since 1998. To put that into perspective, the last time the UFC held an event in his home country, Jose Aldo was 12 years old.
After being the third-to-main event at UFC 129, Jose Aldo could have very easily been given semi-main event status for this huge event in Brazil.
I could understand the UFC not postponing the upcoming fight with Kenny Florian if it was main-eventing whatever card it was going to be on. But the fight has been scheduled to be the semi-main event for UFC 136, behind Frankie Edgar vs. Gray Maynard III.
Aldo should eventually be put in the main event of a pay-per-view, but in the meantime why not make him part of this historic event at UFC 134?
Instead, we’ll probably see Aldo there cheering on his Black House teammates who are on the card and his next opponent, Kenny Florian, will be replacing Joe Rogan for one-night-only as the color commentator next to Mike Goldberg.