If you have been a mixed martial arts and/or UFC fan for more than three years, then UFC Fight Night 39 on Sunday has been circled on your calendar for a while. Two of the greatest fighters in the history of the sport will meet in the octagon in a rematch of what can be argued as the greatest fight of all time from UFC 139 in 2011.
Mauricio “Shogun” Rua will be looking for revenge against Dan “Hendo” Henderson in the most professional, polite, and brutal way possible. Both of these icons have immense respect for each other dating back a decade when both ran rough shot over the PRIDE Fighting Championships in Japan. Both are in my personal top five fighter list of all time. Their first fight is my personal favorite fight of all time. The list for now is as follow:
- Shogun vs. Hendo I
- Wanderlei Silva vs. Chuck Liddell
- Frank Mir vs. Big Nog I
- Hendo vs. Big Nog II
- Cro Cop vs. Wanderlei Silva
Just my personal list, nothing I’ll get into a shouting match argument about. I could literally make a list of 25 fights off the top of my head that are so good that would make me rethink that top five list a few times over. But not the top one. Hendo vs. Shogun could have been a shitty fight and I still would have really liked it. The fact that it was five rounds of some of the most intense fighting in the history of the sport is just icing on the cake.
Just writing this article I have gotten goose bumps four times and counting thinking about their first fight and what may happen in their second fight. Why? It’s not just that I personally like both fighters, it’s the fact that their places in history as all time greats can’t be denied.
Both men will be hall of famers who will be remembered as pioneers and kings. Both dominated the 205 lb division at a time in the history of the sport where the 205 lb division was the deepest in all of mma regardless of promotion. Both did so in spectacular fashion. Both have fought in multiple open weight fights against opponents with distinct size advantages. Both men have held championships in Japan and America. Both men have won mma tournaments. They just don’t make ’em like these two anymore.
Both are the last of a dying breed, PRIDE alumni. If you have never seen PRIDE, do yourself a favor and look up some fights on YouTube and/or on the UFC website. It was the wild wild west of mixed martial arts and professional sports. Along with Fedor, Cro Cop, and Wanderlei Silva; Hendo and Shogun are on the PRIDE FC Mt. Rushmore.
I could write ten pages about these two guys, I hope my enthusiasm comes across in this writing. If you are a newer fan of the UFC look these two up. It’s not just that they are legends, they almost always have exciting fights. They are both two of the greatest closers, finishers, and knockout artists of all time. They both finish fights and didn’t just make good careers out of finishing fights, they became bonafide legends.
It is rare to have genuine living legends face off in a sporting event. UFC Fight Night 39 in Brazil will see just that. Knowing that both men are closer to the end of their careers than the beginning I encourage all of you to watch because fights and fighters of this caliber only come along a few times in each generation. I’m picking Shogun to win, only because that will ensure a trilogy, which gives me restless leg syndrome just thinking about.