Over the last three years, the Ultimate Fighting Championship has experienced an influx of former PRIDE fighters. Some have enjoyed success. Others have tasted defeat. FIGHT! Magazine looks at those fighters and where they stand in the UFC.
Mauricio “Shogun” Rua – c
Many fans deemed Rua the number one light heavyweight in the world. When he debuted in September against Forrest Griffin, most predicted that Shogun would destroy Griffin, but the opposite occurred. Rua appeared fatigued early in the fight, and his overall game left something to be desired. Shogun eventually succumbed to a rear naked choke in the third round. After the fight, it was revealed that he had a knee injury. Rua underwent surgery and was slated to fight the former light heavyweight champion Chuck Liddell in June. Unfortunately, Shogun re-injured his knee in training, and had to pull out of the fight. Rua is hard to gauge, since we haven’t yet seen him healthy in the Octagon.
Wanderlei “The Axe Murderer” Silva – b
Silva came into the UFC after suffering back-to-back losses in PRIDE. His first fight was a long-anticipated match with Chuck Liddell. The fight lived up to the hype, with the fighters standing toe-to-toe for the majority of the fight. However, Liddell got the better of the exchange, and won the unanimous decision. Wanderlei fought hard and looked much better than his two previous performances. Silva will face Keith Jardine, the last man to beat Chuck Liddell, at UFC 84.
Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou – C
Sokoudjou came into the UFC with a lot of hype, after knocking out Antonio Rogerio Nogueira and Ricardo Arona expeditiously. Sokoudjou took on Lyoto Machida in his fi rst fi ght in the UFC, and was submitted in the second round. Rumors have surfaced that he will face Kazuhiro Nakamura at UFC 84. We’ll see if Sokoudjou was pushed too hard, too fast, or just ran into the buzzsaw that is Machida.
Antonio Rodrigo “Minotauro” Nogueira – b
Nogueira has fought twice in the UFC, debuting against Heath Herring. Herring had Nogueira hurt badly in the fi rst round, but Minotauro recovered and controlled the pace the rest of the fi ght. Nogueira proceeded to fi ght Tim Sylvia for the interim UFC Heavyweight Championship. Sylvia used his reach to keep Nogueira away, but Nog showed his true heart and came back to submit Sylvia in the third round via guillotine choke. His next fi ght remains a mystery, as there is no clear heavyweight contender – unless estranged heavyweight champion Randy Couture returns, or the UFC can sign Fedor Emelianenko.
Marcus “maximus” Aurelio – b
Aurelio debuted at UFC 74 back in August, against Clay Guida. The fi ght was very close, with the nod given to Guida. Aurelio then fought Luke Caudillo, and stopped him with strikes in the fi rst round. Most recently at Ultimate Fight Night 13, Aurelio submitted an overmatched Ryan Roberts with an armbar in just 16 seconds!
Akihiro Gono – b
Gono has only fought once in the UFC against Tandem McCrory and defeated him by arm bar. He was slated to face top welterweight contender Jon Fitch, but had to pull out with a hand injury.
Quinton “Rampage” Jackson – A
Jackson came to the UFC in February of 2007 to face the man that gave him his fi rst defeat: Marvin Eastman. After successfully knocking him out, Rampage fought a rematch with Chuck Liddell for the UFC light heavyweight championship which he won in the fi rst round by KO. Jackson then fought the fi rst-ever unifi cation bout in the UFC, defeating Dan Henderson by unanimous decision. Up next is season one winner of The Ultimate Fighter, Forrest Griffi n.
Ryo “Piranha” Chonan – c
Chonan only has one fi ght in the UFC, and lost in a decision to Karo Parisyan. Chonan’s performance was unimpressive. His next fi ght appears to be Roan Carneiro at UFC 85.
Kazuhiro Nakamura – F
Nakamura has only fought once so far in the UFC, putting up a poor performance against Lyoto Machida. To make matters worse, and the reason for the failing grade, Nakamura followed his fi ght with a positive drug test for marijuana. Nakamura is rumored to be fi ghting Sokoudjou at UFC 84.
Anderson “The Spider” Silva – A+
Silva is the only fi ghter given an A+, and for good reason! Since coming into the UFC, Silva has demolished the competition. No one has made it out of the second round. After knocking out the hardheaded Chris Leben in about fi fty seconds, Leben went on to destroy Rich Franklin. The Spider has submitted Travis Lutter and knocked out Nate Marquardt, as well as knocking out Rich Franklin once again. At UFC 82, Silva faced Dan Henderson, who many fans thought be able to thwart Silva. Silva hurt Henderson and then fi nished him with a rear naked choke. FIGHT! Magazine currently ranks Silva as the #1 poundfor- pound fi ghter in the world.
Heath “Texas Crazy Horse” Herring – c
Texas Crazy Horse has had his ups and down since coming to the UFC. His much-anticipated debut was spoiled by Jake O’Brien, as Herring was taken down and controlled throughout the fi ght. Herring rebounded with a decision win over Brad Imes, but then lost in his third fi ght, to Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira. Herring was close to having the fi ght stopped, but didn’t capitalize when Nogueira was hurt. Herring won a split decision recently at UFC 82 over Cheick Kongo. It will be interesting to see how the UFC will match him up next since another Noguiera/Herring fi ght is unlikely.
DAN HENDERSON – C
Perhaps one of the best pound-for-pound fi ghters in the sport today, Henderson has yet to taste victory in the Octagon. Henderson fi rst faced Quinton Jackson in a match that went to decision. Henderson fought well, but Jackson ultimately controlled the majority of the fi ght. After much convincing from UFC president Dana White, Henderson moved down to unify the 185-pound title with Anderson “Spider” Silva. Henderson controlled much of the fi rst round, but eventually got tangled in the Spider’s web, and fell to a rear naked choke. Regardless, Henderson has faced two of the most dominant fi ghters in mixed martial arts and there is nothing to be ashamed of. There is no word of what Henderson will do next. However, he’ll be a tough opponent for anyone, regardless of weight class.
Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic – D
Once considered the second-best heavyweight in the world, there were high expectations for Cro Cop in the UFC. Cro Cop came in at UFC 67, to face Eddie Sanchez whom he defeated. At UFC 70, he faced Gabriel Gonzaga, a fi ght he was also expected to win. Gonzaga controlled Cro Cop for the majority of the fi ght, before knocking Filipovic out with his own primary weapon: the high kick. Cro Cop was then matched with French kickboxer Cheick Kongo and dropped yet another fi ght, this time by decision. The UFC and Cro Cop have since parted ways with Mirko moving on to the Dream promotion. He insists that he will return to the UFC after a few fi ghts to avenge his losses.