Brazil proved tonight at UFC 134 in Rio that they remain at the very top of the mixed martial arts ladder thanks in part to the impressive showings of the three biggest names on the fight card, Anderson Silva, Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira.
So what comes next for these three amigos who remain at the very forefront of the sport?
Prior to this fight there had been rumors that Silva was being lined up for the ‘UFC On FOX’ event in November if he got past Okami this evening, but Dana White had categorically stated that was not the case.
You’ve got to wonder if he may want to backtrack on that however after another specatular showing from the sports greatest talent in a fight in which he essentially emerged unscathed.
If they do so then Dan Henderson is the man that’s been touted to face him, but that’s easier said than done given that Hendo is currently a free agent and would need to come to terms with the UFC quickly in order to be ready for such a fight. Henderson has made it clear that he would welcome such a move however, and says he would drop to 185lbs to fight Silva.
If on the other hand they choose to wait then it’s very likely that the winner of October’s Chael Sonnen Vs Brian Stann fight at UFC 136 will provide Silva’s next opponent.
The final option is a long-touted ‘super-fight’ between Silva and Georges St.Pierre. That would all depend on GSP making it past Nick Diaz in October however, and also on the welterweight champion finally committing to moving up in weight to take the challenge, something he’s been reluctant to do so far.
Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua:
Pre-fight Dana White had dropped hints that the UFC were looking carefully at the results of tonight’s fights with regards to who may be fighting at the ‘UFC On FOX’ show in November – though he stressed Anderson Silva was not the target.
That suggests that the victorious ‘Shogun’ Rua could now be in pole position to headline that show, with Lyoto Machida who’s currently without an opponent and is also in the title hunt being the obvious choice.
A third and final encounter between the two would be an attractive proposition and could establish the next No.1 contender at 205lbs.
The other option would be for Shogun to fight Dan Henderson who is the current Strikeforce 205lb champion. Again this all hinges on a deal being struck to sign Hendo to the UFC though.
Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira:
Big Nog proved tonight that he’s still got some mileage left after producing a KO win in his first fight since an 18-month layoff.
As such he now gets propelled straight back into the upper reaches of the heavyweight division where a number of daunting challenges awaits him.
I suspect Nogueira himself would be keen to arrange a rematch with Frank Mir, and that would certainly be an appealing match-up and would likely be one of that Mir would happily accept too.
Another option would be to take on Brock Lesnar who is expected to make his return at the turn of the year. However the rumor is that Lesnar wants to fight Mir for a third time so both of the above options could then be ruled out.
That would leave Shane Carwin as the other option if the UFC does want to push Big Nog back into the mix.
So those are the most likely options for each fighter based on the UFC’s current schedule. If I had to guess I’d say that Silva Vs Sonnen at some stage in 2012, Shogun Vs Machida 3 at UFC On FOX in November and Big Nog Vs Carwin early next year are the favorites right now, but the UFC is known to throw a few curve balls so lets see what they come up with in the coming weeks.