TORONTO - It looks like we’ll have to wait even longer for UFC lightweight champion Frankie (The Answer) Edgar and Gray (The Bully) Maynard to settle their rivalry.
Both men were forced to pull out of the UFC 130 main event May 28. Edgar hurt his ribs, while Maynard is nursing a knee injury and recovering from a laceration that required stitches.
Though the title fight delay further complicates the already cluttered lightweight division, both men are only expected to be out for six to eight weeks. If all goes well, we could finally witness their third fight by the fall.
But the setback got me thinking about other unresolved trilogies. Sure, there are a number of rivalries best left at only two fights, but I demand closure for these four:
Janitor vs. L'il Nog
In only his fourth professional fight, Antonio Rogerio (Minotoro) Nogueira lost a unanimous decision to then five-year veteran Vladimir (The Janitor) Matyushenko at UFO Legend, Aug. 8, 2002.
More than six years later the two met again at Affliction: Day of Reckoning, this time Nogueira earned an impressive TKO victory after flattening Matyushenko with a brutal knee.
Since then, both fighters have continued to develop their skills.
Matyushenko got to show off his newly sharpened boxing skills at UFC 129 when he knocked out Jason (The Hitman) Brilz in only 20 seconds. Following the bout he wasted no time expressing interest in another shot at Nogueira.
He also called for a rematch with Tito (The Huntington Beach Bad Boy) Ortiz, but I’m going to go ahead and just ignore that part. I’m pretty sure the Geneva Convention forbids subjecting anyone to a repeat of their brutally boring encounter at UFC 33.
As for Nogueira, despite dropping two decisions in a row to Ryan (Darth) Bader and Phil (Mr. Wonderful) Davis, he has shown a significant improvement in the wrestling department.
Nogueira is set to meet Rich (Ace) Franklin at UFC 133 Aug. 6 in Philadelphia. A win there could set him up nicely for a rubber match with Matyushenko.
Hendo vs. Wandy
Dan (Hendo) Henderson’s first career loss came via unanimous decision in his PRIDE debut against Wanderlei (The Axe Murderer) Silva on Dec. 9, 2000.
Though he was on the receiving of one hell of a beating, he still gave Silva a scare after rocking him with his patented overhand right.
Henderson got his revenge at PRIDE 33 on Feb. 24, 2007, knocking Silva out with a left hook.
At this stage in the game, Silva has slowed down significantly since his prime in PRIDE. Though his better years are behind him, Silva still looked off in the second Henderson fight. He just wasn’t his usual aggressive self.
A win over Chris (The Crippler) Leben at UFC 132 in July could be just the thing to reawaken the berserker inside after his recent hiatus from MMA. A motivated, vicious Silva can make any fight exciting. He’s also expressed interest in inking a final chapter with Henderson in the past.
Henderson, on the other hand, remains a killer — especially when he competes at light-heavyweight. The cut to 185 pounds has cost him in the past.
As long as both men are healthy, you can expect a war. I’d throw money down on Henderson winning it, but I’d pay even more just to see the fight happen.
Mayhem VS. Kennedy
A third tussle between Jason (Mayhem) Miller and Tim Kennedy was actually announced for Strikeforce: Feijao vs. Henderson this past March, but was scrapped five weeks before the card. No reason was given for the cancellation and Kennedy went on to submit Melvin (No Mercy) Manhoef that night, while Miller went back to waiting for an opponent.
Once Miller’s Strikeforce contract expired and he signed with the UFC it came to light that the middleweight had been banned from ever again appearing on CBS or Showtime following the now infamous Nashville brawl with Jake Shields, Gilbert (El Nino) Melendez and the Diaz brothers, Nick and Nate.
The two have exchanged unanimous decision victories. Kennedy earned the judges’ nod at Extreme Challenge 50 on Feb. 23, 2003, while Miller got his arm raised at HDNet Fights: Reckless Abandon on Dec. 15, 2007.
Though Strikeforce and UFC are now technically one big, happy family, there still seems to be a lot of hesitancy in pitting fighters from the two rosters against each other. Oh well, one can dream.
Overeem VS. Kharitonov
Another showdown between Alistair (Demolition Man) Overeem and Sergei Kharitonov could materialize within the next year. The two are both involved in the Strikeforce heavyweight grand prix tournament and have the potential to meet each other in the final round.
Kharitonov has already advanced to the semifinals following a first-round knockout victory over Andrei (The Pit Bull) Arlovski in February. Meanwhile, Overeem faces Fabricio (Vai Cavalo) Werdum in a quarterfinal fight on June 11.
Overeem took their first encounter, unloading with a vicious series of knees to the body to snag a TKO victory at PRIDE 31 on Feb. 26, 2006. Kharitonov evened the score at a K-1 HERO’S event a year and a half later, punishing the current Strikeforce heavyweight champion with a mixture of uppercuts, and clubbing hooks and straights, before putting him away with a lunging right hand.
Since their last fight, Overeem has become one of the elite strikers in the world, winning the K-1 world grand prix in December. Kharitonov remains one of the toughest heavyweight sluggers around. He has the punching power necessary to put any of the top heavyweights down if he connects.