Former UFC light heavyweight champion Chuck Liddell will look to get back into title contention when he takes on Mauricio “Shogun” Rua in the main event of UFC 97 on April 18th in Montreal, Canada.
UFC President Dana White announced the matchup at the at Saturday’s post-UFC 93 press conference.
Despite losing three of his last four fights Liddell remains a top draw and is likely to need only one or two wins before earning another opportunity at the title he defended four times between 2005 and 2007. He dropped the title to Quinton Jackson in May 2007 then suffered another loss to Keith Jardine later that year before bouncing back with an exciting unanimous decision of Wandelei Silva in December 2007. He was then slated to meet Rua in the main event of UFC 85 last summer but “Shogun” was forced off the card due to a knee injury then Liddell was also forced to withdraw from the event with a torn hamstring. He returned to the octagon in September and suffered a second-round knockout to current light heavyweight title-holder Rashad Evans.
A highly-regarded PRIDE veteran, Rua debuted in the UFC in September 2007 to high expectations but suffered the third loss of his career to future light heavyweight champion Forrest Griffin via third-round submission in one of the biggest upsets in recent history. Injuries and surgery kept “Shogun” out of the octagon until Saturday night in Dublin, where he scored an unimpressive third-round TKO of 44-year-old UFC hall of famer Mark Coleman.
Anderson Silva vs. Thales Leites is expected to co-headline the event.