A few years back, a showdown between Chuck Liddell and Mauricio “Shogun” Rua would have been a fight fan’s dream matchup. Liddell was the defending UFC light heavyweight champion and at the top of his game while laying out opponents like kitchen tile. Rua was on a meteoric rise through Pride Fighting Championships’ ranks, rivaling Liddell’s fistic floor masonry in Japan. Before Zuffa bought out Pride, it seemed like a full-scale tilt between these two explosive knockout artists would never materialize.
Thankfully the fight will finally come to fruition this Saturday at UFC 97 in Montreal, but like Liddell’s stellar conquest of Rua’s former Chute Boxe teammate Wanderlei Silva, the matchup is being purchased off the shelf a few years after its expiration date. Looking at his most recent bouts, Liddell’s age appears to be catching up to him and the 39-year-old icon just might be a bit past his fighting prime.
Rua, 27, has had a rocky transition to the cage, where his stamina has been harshly tested. Once feared for his heavy, looping punches, Liddell has been knocked out at the hands of Quinton Jackson and Rashad Evans in the last two years. Rua was soundly beaten by Forrest Griffin and nearly suffocated in a near hilarious, though triumphant, scuffle with fighting fossil Mark Coleman.
Luckily for the fans though, Liddell-Rua should still be an all-out war, a skirmish that could wind up being a “fight of the year” candidate when all is said and done. Will Liddell’s experience and hunger to recapture his title, along with a new striking coach, earn him another highlight-reel knockout? Will Rua have made the necessary adjustments to avoid exahaustion and finally get on the tear that UFC fans expected from him from the start?
Many professional trainers and fighters think they have the answer to those questions. Sherdog.com recently polled dozens of the pros in an attempt to get a read on the pulse of the MMA elite. Some were a little hesitant to comment on the fight, but the brave ones put their names and reputations on the line and boldly picked a winner. Link