September 20, 2011
Strikeforce light heavyweight champion Dan Henderson will reportedly meet up with former UFC light heavyweight champ Mauricio "Shogun" Rua at UFC 139 on Nov. 19. This bout should make longtime MMA fans happy, but raises even more questions about the future of Strikeforce.
Both fighters made their names while in the Pride Fighting Championships in Japan. Rua was Pride's Grand Prix middleweight winner, while Henderson held multiple titles with the now-defunct promotion. Even with that shared history, this will be the first time they meet in a fight. Ten years ago, Henderson did defeat Shogun's brother, Murilo.
Henderson's last bout was a knockout of Fedor Emelianenko in what turned out to be the last Strikeforce fight for both men. Just weeks ago at UFC 134 in Brazil, Rua KOed Forrest Griffin.
This will be Henderson's third stint with the UFC. He fought at UFC 17 before Pride, then came back after Zuffa, the promotion that owns the UFC, bought Pride. When Strikeforce offered him a better contract, Henderson defected, but Zuffa purchased Strikeforce in March.
That purchase has allowed the UFC to pick off some of the Strikeforce's champs, like Nick Diaz, who will fight B.J. Penn at UFC 137, and Alistair Overeem, who will take on Brock Lesnar at UFC 141. Three men's championship belts -- heavyweight, light heavyweight and welterweight -- now stand vacant. After his win over Roger Gracie, former Strikeforce light heavyweight champ Mo Lawal said that he was not interested in fighting for a vacant belt, so that division's future is in flux.
Henderson won't be the only former Strikeforcer to fight at UFC 139, as former middleweight champ, Cung Le, will take on Vitor Belfort at 139. The fights are expected to take place in San Jose, the one-time home of Strikeforce's offices.
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