UFC 134 Results: Mauricio "Shogun" Rua vs. Dan Henderson and 5 Matchups to Make
Additionally, victories from former UFC light heavyweight champion Mauricio "Shogun" Rua, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, and Edson Barboza were impressive as well.
While Ross Pearson was defeated by the aforementioned Barboza, the fight arguably could've been scored the other way and there was non-stop action for the full 15 minutes.
Rua's performance likely places him one victory away from another shot at the championship and Nogueira likely set himself up for a high profile bout going forward.
Barboza and Pearson engaged on the feet for the duration of their fight, which viewers likely weren't disappointed with. Both fighters are young and possess fan friendly styles, so we look at who each man should fight next.
Ross Pearson vs. Mark Bocek
Pearson won his first three fights in the organization before falling victim to a Cole Miller submission (rear-naked-choke) in the second half of last year.
At UFC 127 in February, he rebounded with a decision victory over tough veteran Spencer Fisher.
While Pearson showed improvement during his loss Saturday night, he was unable to maintain his winning ways.
The majority of Pearson's opponents in the Octagon have been primarily strikers, so it may be time to see how the rest of his game stacks up against the lightweight division.
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt Mark Bocek would be an opponent that would test Pearson's ground game.
Pearson has yet to face a fighter with Bocek's level of grappling, so it'd be a solid test for the British slugger.
After starting his UFC career off with three consecutive wins, Bocek was outclassed by top 10 lightweight Jim Miller at UFC 111.
Bocek rebounded with a first round submission victory over fellow Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt Dustin Hazelett at UFC 124.
Former WEC lightweight champion Ben Henderson sent Bocek back to loss column at UFC 129, but the Canadian fighter showed tons of heart during the bout.
Pearson (12-5) and Bocek (9-4) are likely ranked fairly close to one another, so perhaps it's time to see which man has developed the most.
Edson Barboza vs. Dennis Siver
Barboza (9-0) has yet to lose as professional fighter and has been impressive in his three fights inside the Octagon.
The Brazilian striking specialist made his UFC debut against Mike Lullo at UFC 123 and won courtesy of TKO (leg kicks).
He's now followed that performance up with back-to-back decision victories and appears to be one of the lightweight divisions brightest prospects.
Dennis Siver (19-7) has been in the organization far longer than Barboza and has fought much tougher competition.
However, Siver is without an opponent since Sam Stout has withdrawn from their matchup at UFC 137 this October.
Stylistically, the fight wouldn't change for Siver as Stout and Barboza are strikers and a Barboza victory would surely help his stock in the division.
Siver may not be keen on the idea of facing an up-and-comer, but it would be a solid test for the German as Barboza is riding high with confidence.
Note: Siver is now slated to face Donald Cerrone at UFC 137 per MMAjunkie.com, which was reported after the writing of this article.
Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira vs. Brock Lesnar
Nogueira (33-6-1, 1NC) returned to action for the first time since February 2010, where he was defeated by current heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez.
He returned in impressive fashion by stunning rising star Brendan Schaub, "Big Nog" survived his younger opponent's strikes from the clinch and uppercuts.
With Schaub's back against the cage, Nogueira unloaded a combination that would secure victory for Brazilian legend.
With the victory, Nogueira's stock is high and he moves to 4-2 since closing out a thrilling PRIDE career.
Former UFC heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar (5-2) is likely to make his return to competition in January, 2012.
Lesnar will be returning from a second battle with diverticulitis and Nogueira appears to be a perfect opponent.
Nogueira would have to deal with Lesnar's massive frame and superior wrestling, but he'd have the clear advantage in jiu-jitsu and striking.
Lesnar's career best wins include Randy Couture, Shane Carwin, and Frank Mir while Nogueira has defeated Mark Coleman, Dan Henderson, Mirko Filipovic, Fabricio Werdum, and Josh Barnett to merely name a few.
With that being said, could Lesnar make the adjustments needed to defeat the legend or would Nogueira's experience and talents reign supreme?
Mauricio "Shogun" Rua vs. Dan Henderson
Rua (20-5) dispatched of Forrest Griffin in impressive fashion by first round knock out and appears back in top form.
Injuries and lack of training have prevented American fans from seeing Rua perform at his best. "Shogun" was dominant during his tenure in PRIDE going 12-1 with victories over "Rampage" Jackson and Alistair Overeem (twice).
When at his best, Rua is a force in the light heavyweight division and he appears primed for a return to the top.
Prior to UFC 134, Rua reunited with head coach Raphael Cordeiro, who coached him during his tenure in PRIDE.
Considering the success "Shogun" and Cordeiro have had together, it's possible that the Brazilian's best days are still ahead of him.
Dan Henderson (28-8) entered the UFC in September, 2007 in an attempt to unify the UFC and PRIDE titles against Quinton Jackson.
Henderson lost the fight by decision and he soon moved to middleweight where he spent the remained of his UFC career.
"Hendo" left the organization to sign with Strikeforce after a devastating knockout victory over Michael Bisping at UFC 100
Four fights later and it appears that Henderson will make a return to the UFC, he'll likely return at light heavyweight.
While both sides still need to reach an contract beneficial to both sides, Henderson would re-enter the organization as the former Strikeforce light heavyweight champion.
Henderson has claimed championships in every major organization he's competed in except for the UFC and a victory over Rua would certainly place him in line for another shot at UFC gold.
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