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Steve Cofield

Liddell gets Rua next ... UFC 96 and 97 main events set

Steve Cofield
Cagewriter

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It is "must win" time for Mauricio Rua and Chuck Liddell. Rua looked awful today UFC 93 in downing Mark Coleman but he did earn himself a marquee fight at UFC 97 against Liddell in the main event of that Apr. 18 Montreal card. A huge win for Liddell, who many fight fans considered dead and buried after his knockout loss to Rashad Evans, could get him the revenge fight that he seeks against "Sugar" later this year.

We know that Liddell will be watching UFC 96 closely where Quinton Jackson must now get through Keith Jardine. Jackson will face "The Dean of Mean" Mar. 7 in Columbus, Oh. If Jackson loses, one can assume he falls behind the Liddell-Rua winner in the line of fighters awaiting a shot at Evans (pictured at the cemetary with the "Iceman"). It was rumored incorrectly during the week by some blogs that a Jackson-Evans fight was all but signed, sealed and delivered for UFC 96. Sources say that the Jackson-Jardine fight was officially locked in earlier this week.

So what does this mean for Evans? Will the UFC hold him out until the summer for his first title defense? Or is it looking more and more like he'll face the winner of unbeatens Lyoto Machida-Thiago Silva. That would be a helluva reward for Silva, who no one had in the title picture a few months ago. Machida and Silva square off in two weeks at UFC 94.

Even with a win over Jackson, Jardine wouldn't get an Evans fight, nor would he want one against his Jackson's Submission Fighting teammate.

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