UFC on FOX 4: Is Shogun Rua Done as a Title Contender?
Mauricio "Shogun" Rua will face off against Brandon Vera in the main event of UFC on FOX 4, Saturday, August 4.
With a victory, Shogun could propel himself into a title fight opposite the winner of Jon Jones vs. Dan Henderson, setting up one of two potential rematches.
First things first—can Shogun beat Vera?
All indications are that he can. Though Shogun has not blasted through competition in the light heavyweight division of late, he's put in consistent performances against top-notch competitors and has dished out as much as he's received.
Except for the thrashing he received at the hands of Jon Jones.
But that Shogun has been able defeat Lyoto Machida, Forrest Griffin, and fight Dan Henderson at the level he did, suggests that Vera may be in over his head.
Of course, things don't always go the way they should in MMA. Vera is a very dangerous striker who could conceivably pull out an upset over Rua.
But that is an unlikely outcome.
Rua can, and probably will defeat Brandon Vera on Saturday night. And he will likely receive a title shot for his efforts, though that honor may still go to Lyoto Macida or Ryan Bader.
Still, that only Brandon Vera and a single uncontrollable result separates Shogun from a title shot suggests that he is not done contending for it just yet.
But does he have a legitimate shot at reclaiming his title?
It's difficult to address this question in the affirmative if Jon Jones retains his belt, given the result of the first time the two matched up.
If Henderson is champ when Shogun makes the next run, then the obvious answer is "yes."
But returning to the hypothetical Jones rematch, Shogun would enter as a massive underdog and would have to improve upon his previous performance in every conceivable way.
Throw in that his body is rapidly breaking down—specifically his knees—and it is reasonable to think that he might not even do as well as last time, if that's possible.
What it ultimately comes down to is that Shogun could be a UFC champion again, but odds are he won't be. Not because he isn't fighting at a championship level, but because Jones raised that level to a point where the old championship form invariably brings nothing but one-sided defeat in title fights.
Rua remains an influential player in the 205-pound title picture and has just as good a chance to score divisional gold as anyone else chasing Jones.
But just because his chances are as good as anyone else's, does not mean they are very good at all, so long as the man to beat stays right where he is.
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