UFC 139 Henderson vs. Rua: Who's on the Hot Seat

Bryan Levick@@BryanLevickMMAContributor INovember 16, 2011

UFC 139 Henderson vs. Rua: Who's on the Hot Seat

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    We are back for the fourth straight week with The Hot Seat. Beginning with UFC 137, covering UFC 138 in England, before moving on to the historic UFC on Fox event that took place last Saturday, the UFC ends a dramatic run of events with UFC 139, which will take place in San Jose on Saturday night.

    The main event pits two former Pride stalwarts against each other as former UFC light heavyweight champion Mauricio "Shogun" Rua battles former pride welterweight and middleweight champion and current Strikeforce light heavyweight champion Dan Henderson.

    Obviously this is a matchup that would have been more exciting when the two were fighting in Japan, but it still holds a lot of significance nonetheless. The drawbacks are Rua's knees, which have gone through multiple surgeries over the past few years, and Henderson's age. Although at 41, Henderson still packs as much dynamite in that right hand of his as he ever has.

    The co-main event will see another former Pride champion in Wanderlei Silva battle former Strikeforce middleweight champion and Sanhou standout Cung Le. This will be Le's first fight inside the Octagon and while he has never fought anyone quite like Silva, his fight are always exciting.

    Urijah Faber and Brian Bowles will face off to determine who will lose to current UFC bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz again. Bowles lost the WEC version of the title to Cruz back in March of 2010 when he couldn't continue after the second round, due to a broken hand. Faber just lost an exciting unanimous decision to Cruz at UFC 132. That fight was the main event of the card and didn't disappoint, but it was evident that Cruz was clearly the better fighter.

    The rest of the card has its ups and downs, there aren't many fighters who are in jeopardy of losing their jobs, but a couple of them are very interesting. Let us look and see who may be collecting an unemployment check in the very near future.

Wanderlei Silva

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    Warrior, legend and champion, these are all adjectives that could be used to describe Wanderlei Silva. One of the most popular fighters to have ever fought in mixed martial arts, Silva is known for his highlight reel knockouts of Rampage Jackson, Kazushi Sakuraba, Keith Jardine and many others. Unfortunately, he has also landed on some of his opponents highlight reels in recent years and UFC president Dana White isn't comfortable with allowing him to fight in the UFC and run the risk of serious and permanent injury.

    Silva was last seen being knocked silly by Chris Leben in just 27 seconds at UFC 132. Since returning to the UFC in 2007, Silva is just 2-4 with two of those losses coming by way of brutal to knockout. He will not find an easy opponent in Le, who brings a whole different bag of tricks to the party. Le utilizes a dizzying array of kicks, roundhouse kicks and spinning backfists to keep his opponents off guard.

    If Silva loses but remains conscious, White may offer him another fight, especially with the UFC returning to Japan. What better way for Silva to end a glorious career than to fight in the Land of the Rising Sun one last time? The fan in me would love to see Silva win and remain competitive, but I can no longer watch him suffer anymore knockouts. He means way too much to the sport to become somebody's punching bag.

Ryan Bader

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    While I understand including Bader on this list may seem a bit far fetched, the reality of the situation is he has lost two fights in a row and looked horrible in both of them. Granted losing to Jon Jones is nothing to be ashamed of, but he was so thoroughly outclassed it looked as though he gave up in the second round and accepted his fate.

    Losing to a revitalized Tito Ortiz is also something he shouldn't lose a lot of sleep over. If Tito is healthy, he is still a dangerous fighter. He showed in his rematch with Rashad Evans at UFC 133 that Tito can still hang with the best of them and will not go down easy. The thing that concerns me is that Bader looked lost and listless against Ortiz—almost like he was mailing it in and was there just because he had to be.

    Bader works hard, but he hasn't been the same fighter since leaving the Lally brothers and Arizona Combat Sports along with C.B. Dollaway and Aaron Simpson to open up their own gym. He did defeat Antonio Rogerio Nogueira at UFC 119, but many people felt that was a gift decision.

    Is the responsibility of running his own gym too much to go along with preparing for his fights? Others have done it, but maybe he needs to step back from the business and focus on his MMA career for the moment. The talent is there as is the desire and determination. The questions is how many more opportunities will he be given by the UFC should he lose to Jason Brilz on Saturday night?

Jason Brilz

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    There is no question that this fight is do or die for Brilz. He was starched by Vladimir Matyushenko in his last bout at UFC 129, in just 20 seconds. He was very competitive in the loss before that when he gave Antonio Rogerio Nogueira all he could handle at UFC 114. In fact, many people including Dana White felt as though Brilz was robbed by the judges.

    He is currently 3-3 in the UFC, with his biggest win coming against Tim Boetsch at UFC 96, this was obviously before Boetsch dropped down to 185 pounds and found some success fighting as a middleweight. Brilz fights hard and gives it his all, but the fact of the matter is the talent is just not there. The UFC is the home of the best MMA fighters in the world and Brilz does not fight that description.