With Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua requiring knee surgery right after winning the UFC’s light-heavyweight title, the top end of the division hasn’t exactly been firing on all cylinders lately.
UFC president Dana White believes that’s all about to change in the New Year though and a crucial step towards that will be Shogun’s successful return to full fitness.
According to White things are looking good in that regard.
“He’s had these knee problems before, and he got his knee done in Brazil, and then never did the therapy he was supposed to do,” White tells MMAJunkie. “(He) always tried to come back too soon. The guy who [treated] his knee this time is the best. He might even be the best in the world, and ‘Shogun’s’ done all the right things. (He) did the right rehab, taken time off, (and) didn’t come back training too soon. So everything’s on schedule, and he’s looking good.”
“On Schedule” means that the division’s next title fight between Shogun and Rashad Evans may well take place in March of next year as planned.
That should be music to Evans ears as the former champion went public in an interview with ESPN last week voicing his frustration with the length of time he was having to sit out while waiting for his title shot.
“Rashad and I talked right after that whole goofy incident,” White reveals. “We’re cool.”
So, with that piece of the puzzle finally appearing to fall into place this Saturday’s 205lb tilt between Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson and Lyoto Machida could also provide a significant contender in the upper reaches of the division in 2011.
White admits that it remains to be seen whether one of these two could go on to fight the winner of Rua Vs Evans, but it’s clearly something they will be considering.
“I don’t know. The fight has to happen first (before I decide).”
Though not officially announced yet Forrest Griffin Vs Rich Franklin is also believed to be lined up for February at UFC 126, alongside Jon Jones Vs Ryan Bader, and they are also highly significant bouts for the weight class that should help shape how the rest of the year unfolds at 205lbs.
With that in mind it’s clear to see why White is relishing the thought of unleashing the division’s top talents against one another.
“The 205-pound division is so stacked with so many good fights,” he said. “I’m waiting for this logjam to free up. [Rua’s] knee is clogging this whole thing up. So once his knee is healed up, we’re going to be putting on some sick 205-pound fights next year.”