High-profile UFC fighters finally collide in San Jose

AP file photoStill going: Dan Henderson will make his return to UFC on Saturday in front of a packed house at HP Pavilion in San Jose.

UFC 139 marks the first time the UFC will host an event in the mixed martial arts hotbed of San Jose and is highlighted by the long-awaited match between Mauricio “Shogun” Rua and Dan Henderson on Saturday.

Henderson and Rua both won titles in Japan-based Pride Fighting, but never faced each other. It’s a match both the fighters and fans have waited years to see.

“We were expected to fight in Pride, but it didn’t happen,” Henderson said. “I think the fans were upset it didn’t go down in Pride, but they get to see the fight in the UFC.”

Rua said, “It is a great fight for the fans and one I need to win. It is a great clash of styles.”

The five-round match will mark Henderson’s return to the UFC after a stint with Strikeforce, which the UFC purchased in March.

The 205-pound light heavyweight (28-8, 5-2 UFC) won his last bout against Russian heavyweight Fedor Emelianenko in a first-round knockout.

Rua (20-5, 4-3) won his last match in the first round against Forrest Griffin at UFC 134 in his native Brazil.

“As a fighter, [I] always want to fight the best and Henderson is one of the best,” Rua said through a translator. “[I] always expected this fight to happen. You have to prepare yourself for anything … because anything can happen in a fight.”

The biggest change for this match will be the extra two rounds, and Henderson said it will affect his energy output through the fight.

“You’ve got to have a pace,” Henderson said. “You can’t go 100 percent the whole time and you just got to [prepare] for that through the training and be prepared for five hard rounds.”

The card also features the UFC debut of San Jose native Cung Le (7-1), who also came over in the Strikeforce deal.

Le (7-1) went 17-0 in kickboxing before entering mixed martial arts and brings something no one in the UFC possesses.

Wanderlei Silva (33-11-1, 3-6) is coming off a first-round knockout loss to Chris Leben at UFC 132 in July and took notes from that defeat.

“The last fight was a learning experience, made some mistakes, paid the price, suffered a while because of that,” Silva said through a translator. “It was a hard process, but it was important.”

In another match, WEC featherweight champion and Sacramento native Urijah Faber (25-5, 1-1) takes on Brian Bowles (10-1, 2-0), with the winner likely to get a title shot against bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz.

 

UFC 139

WHEN: Saturday, 6 p.m. (main card)

WHERE: HP Pavilion, San Jose

TV: Pay-per-view

INFO: www.ufc.com

 

Card highlights:

  • Dan Henderson vs. Mauricio “Shogun” Rua
  • Cung Le vs. Wanderlei Silva
  • Urijah Faber vs. Brian Bowles

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