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My vote to face Chuck Liddell at UFC 85…

The recent news that Mauricio “Shogun” Rua had to bow out of a scheduled match with Chuck Liddell for UFC 85 on June 7 in London has created a lot of speculation in regard to a potential replacement.

Since so many of the UFC’s top light heavyweights are already committed to fights in upcoming months, there aren’t a lot of internal options. As such, many are point to external options.

One internal potential option I overlooked yesterday was Rashad Evans. Evans is expected to fight Thiago Silva at UFC 84 on May 24 in Las Vegas but the fight has yet to be officially announced.

Because Evans has headlined a PPV before and he represents good name recognition value as the heavyweight winner from the second season of “The Ultimate Fighter,” I think Evans is the perfect choice. Personally, I see no obvious need for the UFC to go outside the promotion.

That being said, I’d still like to see an outside option brought in.

I’ve seen the likes of Vitor Belfort and Ricardo Arona mentioned as possibilities but I don’t think either one of them are realistic.

Belfort technically is still under suspension by the Nevada State Athletic Commission after testing positive for steroids following PRIDE’s first show in the U.S. Instead of serving out the suspension, he went and fought for Cage Rage in the UK.

Technically, the UFC could promote a fight between Belfort and Liddell since it would be in the UK, where MMA is not currently regulated. However, the UFC has good relations with NSAC and promoting Belfort given the current circumstances would not be well received.

I’d love to see the old Vitor back at the top of the UFC. Unfortunately, we’re not going to get it. Belfort needs to wake up and stand before NSAC. He needs to apologize and find out what he needs to do in order to get licensed again. Chances are that they will tell him he needs to serve a suspension but he isn’t fighting right now and isn’t scheduled to. The time he’s currently spending on the sidelines could be going towards time served if he would just do the right thing.

By being stubborn, Belfort is doing himself a great disservice. There are more promotions in the U.S. than ever. A lot of them could use a fighter such as Belfort. The problem is that until he makes everything right with NSAC, no promotion in the States can touch the guy.

Arona is another guy I’d love to see in the UFC but that isn’t going to happen either, unless he drops his asking price. Personally, I believe Arona is worth every penny but I don’t run the UFC. I don’t think the UFC is opposed to bringing him in, but the deal has to make sense to them.

The name I’m casting my vote for is Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, the twin brother of current interim UFC heavyweight champion Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira. He’s a top ten caliber light heavyweight who isn’t in my top ten right now for no other reason than inactivity.

Rogerio has done some fighting for Keith Crawford’s Hardcore Fighting Championships in Canada but I’d love to see “Minotoro” competing on the UFC’s big stage. There’s also the fact that I think a fight between him and Liddell would be pretty damn good.

  • Sam Cupitt says:

    I’d watch Rashad vs Chuck for the simple fact that Rashad will get his ass whooped.

  • Gygax says:

    Wow, Lil Nog. That’s the first time I’ve seen that name mentioned. And its a damn good pick. Zuffa could also play off the brother of the HWT champ angle.

    It could even set up a future Liddell-Big Nog match if the Iceman prevails.

    Interesting choice Sam. I like it. Its not a title match, so bringing him in to face Iceman would be fine.

  • Andy says:

    I think a fight with Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira is going to happen. No other heavyweights are deserving of a title shot. Chuck has said before he wouldn’t mind fighting CroCop, so why not big Nog. The UFC would love nothing else then giving their poster boy a title shot.

  • mofsteel says:

    I’d like to see Rashad get KTFO.

  • mofsteel says:

    If it is Rashad, then who does that leave Thiago. I hope to see him fight because totally dominated Houston Alexander.

  • jj says:

    Seems to me that Dan Henderson is the perfect choice. He wants to fight at Light Heavy, he was supposed to fight chuck until rampage messed that up and it would be real competition for both fighters. The only down side would be if chuck lost, but hey, that’s why you are in the sport…

  • Zack says:

    I thought of this option too, especially considering what a war Lil Nog gave Shogun in the MW GP. Not sure about the cache he might have with fans.

  • Sam Cupitt says:

    If you had Rashad against Chuck I’d move Gouevia up to face Silva, but then there’s the problem of that they both train at ATT.

    Well there’s still Hamill, Boetsch, Irvin and Alexander who can recover in time to fill the breach if there has to be a big switch around.

  • STFU says:

    I was thinking just the opposite, why not have Thiago Silva fight Chuck, I would rather see that fight…

  • woooburn says:

    exactly how “firm” is a fight agreement? is there room to adjust things after they’ve been signed? there must be in the event of injury and things like that, so i cant see why they couldn’t rearrange anyone’s plans as long as the fighters agree to it.

    can we see chuck “k.d.” doug “the rhino” marshall, please?

    they could also sign an unknown, like they did with alexander against jardine. could create some fireworks.

  • Would like to see Little Nog in the UFC, but Chuck would be a bad matchup.

    How about Alistair Overeem. Although I do wonder if he’s given up on making the 205 limit and will stay at HW.

    Arona would be great too as an outside option, could he keep Chuck on the ground?

    From within, Rashard is a great option IMO. Alexander coming off a dominant loss would be bad for Chuck’s title aspirations if he got caught.

  • mike says:

    excellent opinion.

  • Big Butch says:

    I agree with STFU…I think Thiago Silva would be a better matchup for Liddell than Rashad Evans. Especially with Silva’s dominating performance against Houston Alexander, I think he should now get tested against an elite guy to see where his skills really are.

    With all that being said, I would really love to see Rogerio Nogueira in the UFC to fight Liddell. And if he is signed and that doesn’t happen, there is the already-written storyline of his past KO loss to Sokoudjou. Rematch could mean great hype and awesome fight.

  • Jon says:

    Only ONE man can fill this void to make this a blockbuster fight….TITO TITO TITO TITO :)

  • Jeremy says:

    To me anyways, you would definitely have to look at someone fighting on the 84 card to promote up to fight Liddell. The only really obvious choices, like mentioned earlier, are Rashad Evans, Thiago Silva and Wilson Gouveia.

    I think like Sam mentioned the easiest promoted fight would be Liddell-Evans because of Evans TUF credentials and the fact he already headlined a card. But I think the more exciting fights would come from Silva and Gouveia. And for me Silva is the one I’d want to see fight Liddell more then the other two. Then you could have Gouveia fight Evans on the 84 card and Reljic can just get a new opponent.

    Outside the promotion I think the choices of Arona and Lil Nog are excellent I just don’t know how realistic they are. These two choices would make the best fights overall against Liddell moreso then the ones the UFC can make from within.

  • paddiosf says:

    I was thinking little Nog or Arona..lil Nog is the better choice on the standpoint of his stand-up game is much better than Arona and he’s been alittle more active in the last 8 months or so, with his participation in the Pan Am games this past summer as a boxer for Brasil where he won a Broze medal..Arona who in my opinion may the best submission fighter LHW maybe in the world but his standup game is alittle suspect at best, he’s a really strong guy but Chuck would pick-him apart….I would like to see them both in the UFC but for Arona or Lil Nog coming in as there first fight against Chuck wouldn’t serve either one well…I would reshuffle like previous comments to Evans to fight Gouveia and SIlva/Liddell….

  • Bulldog says:

    Arona? Seriously? Does anyone actually like to watch him fight?

    I’ll give you that he is talented and is capable of entertaining but if he wants to succeed in the UFC he would really need to change his approach. Machida already fills the “talented LHW who plays it safe and grinds out the decision” role. Why do they need two of them? That’s not to say both guys aren’t extremely talented. I think Machida already got the talk from Dana/Joe about being more entertaining and it was evident in his last fight.

    I like the pick of Little Nog though. And I second the sentiment that Thiago Silva vs. Liddell would be more entertaining than Evans vs. Liddell, although I’m not sure it would sell as many buy’s with the mainstream public.

  • Davey D says:

    I’d like to see Chuck vs. Hendo. That would be my 1st choice. After that would be Ricardo Arona next, this is a long shot. My third choice is Rashad Evans because he deserves to fight Chuck Liddell.

    Rogerio Nogueira would be a excellent choice as well. They would need to buy out his contract from HCF. This would an awesome fight. Minotoro vs. The Iceman has a nice ring to it also.

  • Big Butch says:

    I would also love to see Chuck vs. Hendo, but with Henderson losing his last two high-profile fights, I don’t know if the casual fan would be interested.

  • Zantetzuken says:

    I think they want Liddell to win his next fight either with ease or with a convincing opponent to work him towards a title shot. So he is either going to be fed a scrub or a relatively good opponent. A nobody to the average UFC audience like Lil Nog will hurt him tramendously if Nog won.. I mean don’t get me wrong, i just like watching good fights regardless of the outcome but i don’t see that happening. I do see Rashad and Liddell happening and to be honest if Forest won the belt i could see Liddell getting a title shot almost instantly. Maybe they will bring in some WWE wrestler to fight him (lawl).

  • Davey D says:

    All the “casual fan” needs to know about Henderson is that his last 3 fights have been Title fight’s. He is 1-2 in those fight’s, losing to Rampage and Spider Silva who are #1 at 205 and 185. Hendo is still one of the best fighter’s on this planet, plain and simple.

    Sherdog’s FightFinder is a good source to look a fighter’s record. Everyone who is new to MMA should be made aware of that. It’s a great tool.

    I’d like to see Dan go to LHW and stay there. 185 would be fine also. 205 seem’s like a better place for him, IMO.

  • Big Butch says:

    I would prefer Hendo staying in the MW division. If his walking around weight is roughly 195-200 lbs., he should either stay at MW or fight LHW at his walking weight. At 205, he clearly got gassed in his bout with Rampage. He just didn’t look comfortable at that weight, in my opinion, but at his walking weight and in fighting shape, there is not doubt in my mind he could hang with any of the current stable of LHW’s. With the pickings being as slim as they are with elite guys at MW, I would really like to see a rematch with Hendo v. Silva after Silva fights Okami. Hendo’s versatility could make him a commodity in the UFC.

  • Ross says:

    One option I think is great is scrapping Tito vs Machida- and Evans vs. Silva. Put Tito vs Evans for the rematch and then have Liddell vs. Machida. Tell me why this wont work.

  • Kelvin says:

    I agree with Ross….otherwise…I wouldn’t mind seeing Rashad fight Chuck.

  • Kris says:

    I was thinking the same as you…Ross..

    At the end of the day it doesnt matter who you put in front of Tito…He was robbed in the last fight against Rashad, this will be a good way of fixing things before he leaves

  • Andrew says:

    I think that a good replacement for Shogun would be Dan Henderson. I don’t think he took that much punishment against Silva, and he is already in fighting shape. He is also a top caliber fighter that is worthy of fighting Chuck. It could be a great chance for Hendo to redeem himself after 2 straight loses.

  • Davey D says:

    Machida vs. Liddell would be fine with me too. I think they should do this because if Tito is in fact on his way out. It wouldn’t be good for J. Silva/White if Tito were to defeat Lyoto. Tito could then fight Rashad instead. So, in this case, it makes sense.

    Only time will tell us what will happen next. It just suck’s that Shogun got injured. I was really looking forward to that fight.

    Anyways, Chuck’s possible oppenets seem to be…Hendo, Machida, Evans and Thiago Silva. Rogerio Nogueira and Ricardo Arona aren’t in the UFC yet so I’ll have to take them off the list.

  • Mike Wolfe says:

    I don’t know about a Rashad/Liddell fight. Grapplers haven’t done very well against Chuck–Couture and Bobbaloo are examples, and possibly Tito, depending on how you characterize his style. Chuck’s always been most vulnerable to a striker. Hell, I’d pay money to watch Chuck fight about anyone, but Rashad doesn’t have much excitement for me.

  • woooburn says:

    rubber match with jeremy horn maybe?

  • slimm says:

    a rubber match with Horn? ehhh, that really doesnt have much appeal i think, hell most of the “casual” fans dont even know that gumby is 1-1 vs chuck or that they have even fought…..
    i agree with Ross, put Big Head in v Evans so the can do nothing for 15 mins against each other, then hell see where Machida is at put him against Chuck for the #1 spot winner gets the winner of UFC 86, in december… that would be the best re~arrangement that i think they can do….. just hope they announce something or someone soon so Chuck can get motivated to fight a specific person again

  • Todd says:

    I’d rather see Thiago fight Chuck than any of the fighters mentioned above.He may not have the name recognition of these other guys but I love the style match-up.

  • Matt C. says:

    Personally, I have no interest in Tito vs. Chuck. Tito got destroyed the last time they fought and it would happen again. Also don’t want to see NAchida get beat by Chuck just yet, he needs more time to build his resume. Evans or Thiago Silva would be nice. UFC would prob do Evans b/c of the name recognition with the TUF fans. Thiago Silva vs. Chuck would be a GREAT fight IMO.

  • Rich says:

    i feel that these are possible match-ups:

    chuck vs. lil nog
    chuck vs. Sokoudjou
    chuck vs. Stephan Bonnar
    chuck vs. Evans

    i don’t think there’s too many other options.. that would draw a crowd.. and make a good fight..

  • Rich says:

    i didn’t include chuck vs. thiago.. because i don’t feel that the “UFC Fans” [and when i say that, i mean, the ones that tune in, get drunk, and wait for a KO] really know who Thiago is yet.. so, i just don’t really see that fight happening..

  • Rich says:

    oh, and sam, i agree completely with your comments on Belfort..
    man, he’s one of my favorites.. and i can’t stand to see him not fighting.. it’d be great even if he fought in EXC,WEC, or any organization.. as long as he fought.. but.. it just doesn’t seem like it’s going to happen..

    a damn shame.

  • slimm says:

    i guess according to MMAWEEKLY.COM Evans has signed to step in as Shoguns replacement i believe sooo there it is the wrestler v the wrestler with huge ko power man its kinda a step down for Chuck i hope he takes this fight seriously unlike the Jardine fight

  • slimm says:

    i mean a step down in comparison to fighting Shogun, who is a great fighter compared to evans who is good not so much great yet…… imo…..

  • screwface says:

    chuck vs evans would be a great matchup, can hate on rashad all u want..but hes undefeated :p

    but after reading richs post, i think hes on to something.

    chuck vs. Sokoudjou

    yes sok “choked” on his 1st ufc bout, but this is an awesome matchup. both great strikers with knockout hands. this would really be exciting imo.

  • jesus christ,CHUCK IS NUM 1,but the loss to rampage done his confidence+u can see it,but he needs an exiting fight+if u ask me,i think ufc should give BISPING the chance to fight him,coz EVANS to boring to fight+ BISPING DESERVED TO WIN HIS FIGHT AGAINST EVANS,WITHOUT A DOUBT,so ufc get BISPING IN THERE+MAKE IT A MATCH UP IN LONDON,THAT EVERYONE KNOWS ITS GOING TO BE A TOP NOCH FIGHT!!!!!!!!

  • Rich says:

    aside from the fact that Rashad has taken the fight [apparently]
    there’s only one problem with your comments hardy, and that is that Bisping is MW now..


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