On August 27th, the UFC returns to Brazil for the first time since 1998, featuring a middleweight title fight — Anderson Silva gunning for his ninth belt-defense against Yushin Okami — and a collection of native fighters representing the sport’s past, present, and future. Watching the UFC 134 trailer, it’s clear that there are a lot of storylines swirling around the event that will add even more drama to the already-stacked lineup. So let’s run ‘em down, shall we?
Everybody loves a good rematch: Anderson Silva’s last official loss was due to a subtle rule in MMA that states you can’t kick a downed fighter in the head — even if that fighter is on top of you. Silva has always felt that Okami took the easy way out during their first meeting in January 2006, and UFC 134′s main event is his chance to set the record straight. If not for that oddball disqualification, Silva’s undefeated streak would extend all the way back to his freakish PRIDE loss to Ryo Chonan, six and a half years ago.
Meanwhile, Mauricio Rua will have a chance to even the score against Forrest Griffin, who choked him out in shocking fashion during Shogun’s UFC debut in 2007. Since that night, both men have won the light-heavyweight title and lost it. With consecutive wins over Tito Ortiz and Rich Franklin, Forrest Griffin is still very much a player at 205 — and Rua is coming off of the most lopsided beating he’s ever suffered in his entire career. Does Shogun deserve to be the favorite again? Will the story have a different ending on his home turf?
Brazil vs. The World: Good Lord, look at all those green flags…
Big Nog puts it best — “That’s gonna be insane, you know? I feel sorry for the guys who’s coming to fight in Brazil. Because people gonna boo dem!” Besides the legendary names (Silva, Rua, Nogueira), the Rio crowd will be marking out for fast-rising contender Edson Barboza, the collection of familiar UFC vets (Thiago, Cane, Palhares), and local heroes crossing over from the Jungle Fight promotion (Alcantara, E. Silva). The vibe at the HSBC Arena will be overwhelming.
A passing of the torch? Brendan Schaub vs. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira represents a collision of the UFC’s past and future that’s reminiscent of Royce Gracie and Matt Hughes‘s meeting back in 2006. In recent fights, Schaub has made his name by abusing fighters in decline (Cro Cop, Gabriel Gonzaga), and it’s hard to deny that Big Nog has lost a step as of late. Once known for his iron chin, he’s lost two of his last three bouts by KO/TKO. A bad loss to Schaub could be a retirement-worthy moment. For Schaub, it would secure his reputation as a legend-killer.
Bare asses: As the quick ass-montage at the beginning of the UFC 134 trailer reminds us, the bunda is the national symbol of Rio, even more so than the giant Jesus statue. And it’s considered impolite if you don’t stare. This girl knows what I’m talking about.