When the books are finally closed on Mauricio "Shogun" Rua's career, it is difficult to imagine him being remmebered as anything but one of the greatest fighters of his era. The Pride Middleweight Grand Prix winner and former UFC light heavyweight champion has amassed a decorated career. It is one which was built on his aggressive fighting style and earned victories over a handful of the sport's elite.
In the days when the sport of MMA was attempting to flourish, Rua's talents made him a phenom. While the UFC was battling for recognition stateside, Rua was helping to lead the charge from the otherside of the globe.
Expectations where high when Rua finally joined the UFC roster and despite getting off to a disappointing start, the resilient Brazilian striker battled to become the champion of the organization's most popular division. Earning a UFC championship was yet another building block of his legacy, but as the next wave of talent emerged in the form of Jon Jones, Rua was dethroned in brutal fashion.
After years spent in the fires of live combat, time appeared to be catching up Rua. Questions began to circulate regarding Rua's durability and heart but he answered the call with vigor in his most recent outing against Dan Henderson at UFC 139. In a war often referred to as "The Fight of the Century" Rua and Henderson took one another to the brink. While Rua would ultimately come up short on the judge's scorecards, it was another definitive moment in an outstanding career and proved he still has the talent to compete with the sport's best.
On Saturday night in Los Angeles he will make his first appearance in the Octagon since his epic battle with Henderson as he faces Brandon Vera in the main event of UFC on Fox 4. With very little left to prove, Rua made it clear what has motivated him to return to action.
"I expect a good fight. Both of us are aggressive strikers. We both like to stand and exchange and I'm sure it's going to be a very exciting fight for the fans.
"It's hard to see where the advantages will be in this fight. We both have a good background in Muay Thai and I believe the fight will be decided on the feet. I'm prepared for all situations though and if the fight goes to the ground it's okay. That will be no problem for me.
"I'm always looking at the fight in front of me for motivation. I have trained hard and I'm ready for this fight on Saturday night. As a professional fighter you want to have the belt. It is the most important thing and my goal is to get back to being the champion.
"I want to thank all of my fans so much for their support. The only thing I can promise them is that I will do my very best on Saturday night. I will put on a great show for my fans to pay them back for all the support they have given me over the years. It has been a great motivation for me and I will give my best against Brandon Vera on Saturday.