First and Worst: Week of January 20 – January 26, 2014

By Adam Martin

First and Worst is an ongoing 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.

First: Dan Henderson vs. Shogun Rua 2, UFC Fight Night 38

My pick for the best new fight announced this past week is the upcoming light heavyweight rematch between Dan Henderson and Shogun Rua, which takes place at UFC Fight Night 38 on March 23 in Natal, Brazil. The fight is a rematch of the pair’s “Fight of the Century” back at UFC 139 in 2011, a bout which Henderson won via controversial unanimous decision.

In their first fight, Henderson and Shogun left everything in the cage and beat and battered each other for five rounds with a number of mixed martial arts techniques. The first three rounds of the fight clearly belonged to Henderson, while the last two clearly belonged to Shogun, but most observers believed that Shogun deserved a 10-8 scorecard in round five, which would have made the fight a draw. The judges disagreed, however, and awarded the bout to Henderson via unanimous decision. No 10-8 rounds were scored.

Since that fight, both men have hit skids, with Henderson losing his last three fights and Rua going 2-2 and looking extremely inconsistent in his outings. So I think that, considering neither is in title contention at the moment (or will be anytime soon), this is the perfect matchup for both these men at this point in their careers, as Rua will have the chance to avenge the loss, while Henderson will get the opportunity to prove he was the better man all along.

Henderson vs. Shogun 1 is my favorite fight of all time, and while I don’t expect the rematch to be as good – that’d be nearly impossible to do – I still think it will be a tremendous bout and I’m very pleased the UFC decided to book this matchup at this particular time.

UFC Fight Night 38

Dan Henderson vs. Mauricio “Shogun” Rua

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Worst: Rampage Jackson vs. Christian M’Pumbu, Bellator 110

My pick for the worst new fight announced this past week is the upcoming light heavyweight semifinal matchup at Bellator 110 between Rampage Jackson and Christian M’Pumbu. The winner of the fight will take on the winner of the other semifinal matchup between “King Mo” Lawal and Mikhail Zayats to determine who gets the next Bellator light heavyweight title shot.

I think this fight is a complete joke. Rampage, for all his faults, is still a big, strong 205er and showed in his Bellator debut against Joey Beltran that he still has knockout power in his fists. M’Pumbu, however, is a guy who should be fighting at 185, and he’s currently on a two-fight losing streak. Former champion or not, M’Pumbu doesn’t really deserve to be in this tournament, and it seems pretty obvious Bellator is doing everything it can to get Rampage a win to set him up for a fight against King Mo.

I don’t like the fact that Bellator has moved to these four-man tournaments in half of its divisions, and I really feel like the tournament format should come to an end. If the promotion wants to book that Rampage vs. King Mo fight, it should just do it, not just throw these guys in a tournament and cross their fingers that they will make it to the final (we saw what happened with King Mo in his first two Bellator tournaments).

It’ll be nice to see Rampage get another sweet knockout, this time with the victim being M’Pumbu, but as a fan I’d like more competitive matchmaking in Bellator’s tournaments, and I’d be completely shocked if M’Pumbu was able to pull this out of his back pocket.

Bellator 110

Quinton “Rampage” Jackson vs. Christian M’Pumbu (Season 10 LHW Tournament Semi-Final)

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UFC Fight Night 38: Henderson vs. Rua 2 is due to take place on March 23, 2014 at the Ginasio Nelio Dias in Natal, Brazil.

Click the stars to rate how good you think UFC Fight Night 38 will be.

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