Las Vegas, NV (USA) – The world’s most exciting sport returns to the Emerald Isle as the Ultimate Fighting Championship® (UFC®) organization opens up 2009 with the star-powered UFC 93 card at the O2-Dublin in Dublin, Ireland on January 17, 2009.
In the light heavyweight main event, former two-division world champion Dan Henderson will collide with former UFC middleweight king Rich Franklin in three-round war which will set the tone for the 205lbs division in 2009.
Then, 2005 PRIDE® Grand Prix Champion Mauricio “Shogun” Rua returns to the Octagon™ to throw down with UFC Hall of Famer Mark Coleman in a rematch MMA fans thought they would never see. The pair last met in Japan in 2006, with the legendary Coleman pulling off a stunning upset by breaking Rua’s arm in the first round.
“Rich Franklin vs. Dan Henderson is a battle between two great former champions who are both looking to get another chance to wear a world title around their waist,” said Dana White, UFC President. “Franklin is the former UFC Middleweight champion, and he’s a dangerous striker with solid submission skills – he also showed great takedown defense in his September destruction of powerful wrestler Matt Hamill. Dan Henderson is the former PRIDE Welterweight and Middleweight champion. He’s a world class wrestler, known for his great chin and his one punch knockout power. He defeated formidable Brazilian submission specialist Rousimar Palhares in September. These are two fan favorites with a lot of pride on the line as they want to show that they are still among the very best fighters in the world.”
“We are delighted to be returning to the Emerald Isle again, especially with such blockbuster main and co-main events,” said Marshall Zelaznik, UFC UK Division President. “The O2-Dublin is a fantastic venue that will create a memorable UFC experience. After smashing box office records in Belfast in June 2007, we promised our Irish fans we would be coming to Dublin, and now on January 17 the world’s most exciting live sports experience travels across the Irish Sea - we know this will be a great night for our fans.”
Ticket on-sale date and purchase information for UFC 93 will be announced shortly. UFC 93 will be available on pay-per-view at 10 p.m. EST/7 p.m. PST on iN DEMAND, DIRECTV, DISH Network, TVN, Bell ExpressVu, Shaw Communications and Viewer’s Choice Canada for a suggested retail price of $44.95 for standard definition or high-definition broadcasts (where available); UFC fans also have the option to watch the UFC 93 pay-per-view live from Dublin, Ireland at 3pm EST/12Noon PST.
The only fighter to ever hold the PRIDE 205-pound and 183-pound titles simultaneously, Temecula, California’s Dan Henderson (23-7) has a body of work which stands favorably against any resume in the fighting world today, with his victories over the likes of Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, Wanderlei Silva, Murilo Bustamante and Vitor Belfort just scratching the surface of what he’s accomplished in his 11 year career. A two-time United States Olympian in Greco-Roman wrestling who is fresh off a dominant win over Rousimar Palhares at UFC 88, the 38-year old Henderson’s grappling ability and concussive right hand power has set him in good stead as he looks to take out Rich Franklin on January 17th and continue on his march to his first UFC title.
“This is the fight my fans have wanted for a long time now, and they want to see me fight Rich Franklin,” said Henderson. “I think this will be a great fight for Ireland, it definitely will be exciting because we both like to stand and bang, and we both have knockout power. I’m excited to go to Ireland and to take on Rich; I think he’s a tough opponent and a huge challenge, but I don’t see myself losing to him.”
One of the UFC’s most popular fighters, 34-year old Rich “Ace” Franklin (26-3, 1 NC) began his MMA career as a light heavyweight, going 15-1 with 1 no contest in the process. It was a detour to the 185-pound division that made him a star though, as he won the UFC middleweight title in June of 2005 and successfully defended his crown twice with big wins over Nate Quarry and David Loiseau before losing to current champion Anderson Silva. In 2008, the well-rounded Cincinnati, Ohio native decided to challenge himself at light heavyweight once again, and his third round TKO of highly-regarded Matt Hamill in September sent a clear message out to his fellow 205 pounders that not only was he back, but that he is looking to take care of some unfinished business in his old weight class.
“Dan Henderson has great credentials, and he is going to be one of the toughest fights of my career,” said Franklin. “That being said, I’m planning on winning the fight, and I’m looking forward to fighting in the main event and fighting in Ireland. I love the fans, and the way they react by singing and chanting makes it a unique experience for me.”
A true pioneer of the game whose influence is felt to this day, Columbus, Ohio’s Mark “The Hammer” Coleman (15-8) proved that wrestlers not only could be successful in mixed martial arts, but that they could dominate. An NCAA Champion and member of the 1992 US Olympic team, Coleman first competed in MMA at UFC 10 in 1996, winning three fights in succession to win that night’s tournament and introduce a new phrase into the sport’s vernacular – Ground and Pound. Another tournament win followed just two months later, and at UFC 12 he defeated future Hall of Famer Dan Severn in less than three minutes to become the first UFC Heavyweight Champion. A stellar career in Japan’s PRIDE organization followed, and in 2006, he handed his UFC 93 opponent – Mauricio “Shogun” Rua – his first loss in three years. On January 17th, the 43-year old Coleman – who was inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame earlier this year – returns to the Octagon for the first time since 1999, and he promises to be better than ever.
Just 26 years old, Mauricio “Shogun” Rua (16-3) has done more in nearly six years than most do in an entire career. A fearsome striker whose aggression has made him one of the game’s most avoided figures, Rua had perhaps the greatest run any mixed martial artist has ever had in 2005, when he won the PRIDE Grand Prix tournament by knocking out current UFC star Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, decisioning Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, stopping Alistair Overeem, and knocking out Ricardo Arona. Four more PRIDE wins followed for the native of Curitiba, Brazil, with his only loss ever in the organization coming in 2006 via an injury-induced TKO to the man he will face this January, Mark Coleman. At UFC 93, Rua hopes to get a little revenge along with his first UFC win.