As I mentioned on yesterday, I pretty much thought that Chuck Liddell was going to take Shogun's head off at UFC 97. I haven't really seen many people talking about Shogun's performance, so I thought I'd chime in with some thoughts. Firstly, I think Shogun's performance was incredible simply because it was a do or die fight for him. Here you have a guy that should be in the prime of his career, was once the #1 ranked LHW in the world, and now he's the underdog against a guy that was almost 40 years old and 1-3 in his last four fights. The pressure to win must have been excruciating. However, even with all that I still have some reservations about the Shogun of old returning to form. While I'm glad he got the win, I would have liked to see how his conditioning would have fared if the fight had gone longer. It'll be interesting to see who the UFC decides to put Shogun up against next. They have plenty of options, but my #1 option would be Shogun Rua vs. Forrest Griffin 2 on the December card.
If this match takes place, it would be over two years since the first match. The matchup is marketable, with the UFC using the whole Shogun was coming off two knee surgeries angle. Plus, the first fight was competitive even with Shogun being out of action for so long. Forrest Griffin is fighting at Thiago Silva at UFC 101 in August. This gap in time would give Shogun the appropriate time to prepare and nix any conditioning problems that may still exist. It would also give Forrest Griffin time to recover from the Silva fight, and time for a proper training camp to prepare for Rua. By the way, I fully expect Griffin to thrash Thiago Silva if I hadn't mentioned it before. A win against Griffin would give Rua three wins in a row, and two wins over two top ten fighters that have huge followings with casual fans. Thus, putting him in prime contention for a title shot against either Rashad Evans, Lyoto Machida, or Rampage Jackson.
Who do you want to see Shogun face next and why?