First and Worst is a new series for MMARatings.net, where every week Adam will make his pick for the best and worst newly-announced fight of the past week (Monday to Sunday). If you’d like to see any additions to this series, hit him up on Twitter @MMAdamMartin.
Although it has yet to be officially announced by the UFC, former two-time PRIDE champion Dan Henderson confirmed last Thursday on MMA Spike TV’s Uncensored that the long-rumored matchup between he and former UFC light heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida will take place at UFC 156, during the promotion’s annual Super Bowl Weekend event on February 2, 2013.
The bout is expected to serve as a title eliminator.
Henderson was promised a title shot after besting Mauricio“Shogun” Rua in the "Fight of the Century" at UFC 139, but after waiting for his shot at UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones, he had to pull out of their scheduled UFC 151 fight with a knee injury. With just a week to go until the event, the UFC pulled the plug on the card. The rest, as they say, is history.
Machida was offered the shot at Jones on short notice, but turned it down because, in his mind, another loss to Jones would nullify a chance for him to ever fight for the UFC’s 205-pound title again, as he’s already lost to Jones once before, getting choked unconscious by the champ at UFC 140. Now, the UFC has decided to match the two of them up, and the winner will undoubtedly be more than worthy of a title shot.
Really, this is an incredible fight between two legends of the sport, and I for one can’t wait to see it. It’s a fight that can play out in all sorts of ways: maybe Henderson can score a knockout with his infamous ‘H-Bomb’; maybe Machida can kick Henderson in the face like he did to Randy Couture; or maybe it’s a chess match for three rounds. Regardless, it’s a very intriguing bout, and it should help UFC 156 – which also features UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo vs. Frankie Edgar and Rashad Evans vs. Antonio Rogerio Nogueira – do solid pay-per-view numbers.
The worst matchup announced last week is Daniel Cormier vs. Dion Staring, which takes place at the Strikeforce finale in January. It’s the worst matchup because it makes absolutely no sense from a rankings standpoint, other than it gives Cormier a ‘stay-busy fight’ before he heads over to the UFC.
Cormier is the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix Champion and was set to fight former UFC heavyweight champion Frank Mir in Strikeforce until Mir pulled out with an injury, forcing the cancellation of their planned November card card (I’m sensing a pattern here). He owes Strikeforce and Showtime a ‘plus-one fight,’ and although names like Mir and Fabricio Werdum were talked about, it’s Staring who gets the fight.
Staring, who is a member of the Blackzilians and a long-time training partner of Alistair Overeem, is a solid, well-rounded fighter who possesses both submissions and knockout power. But he’s going to be in tough against Cormier, who is one of the top five heavyweights in the world. Not to knock Staring, but he is unknown to most fans, and it’s strange that he’s the one Cormier is facing in his last Strikeforce bout before his transfer to the UFC. Actually, it’s more than strange – it’s just plain silly.