Is there a fighter who puts forth more effort, who sheds more blood, sweat and his opponents’ tears than Mauricio “Shogun” Rua? Answers on a postcard, please. I certainly can’t think of one.
The UFC President appears to hold a grudge longer than your average 80’s action hero.
This seemingly all started when Thiago Silva withdrew from his bout with “Shogun” at UFC 149, leaving the Curitiban without an opponent. The UFC’s first pick to replace Silva was the ultra-hyped Glover Teixeira, who had recently beaten Kyle Kingsbury like a blood-filled piñata.
“Shogun” was reluctant to compete with such a high-risk, low-reward foe, and relayed this fact to Dana White. The UFC President then did what any good promoter would do.
He put a potential star “over” at the expense of a fading star, detailing to the media the sensitive contents of his communication with Rua and his management.
White all but told the media that “Shogun” was scared. He could scarcely have been less subtle had he formed wings with his arms and started clucking in the former 205-pound king’s general direction.
A contemptible act? Sure. A smart decision? Very much so.
As much as the fans love Rua, the former Pride phenom has clearly seen better days.
His knees have been reconstructed more often than the Great Wall of China and he has the cardio of a 60-a-day asthmatic, so one can understand White’s reasons for taking advantage of his diminishing name value.
Naturally, the UFC President was economical with the truth when explaining why he divulged the contents of a private conversation. He justified it thusly:
The guy's been through a million wars with all the best guys in the world. But for some reason, he does not want to fight this dude Glover. And you know me - if you don't want me to tell the truth, don't say stuff to me on the phone.
This is apparently how Dana White operates. You tell him stuff in private and he cannot help but tell the next journalist he sees.
Of course, in an astonishing display of hypocrisy, he will publicly chastise a journalist for reporting his off-the-record comments—as he probably should, all things being equal.
There is no question that White is extremely forthcoming with the media and the fans. It is part of his appeal. That being said, let’s be clear about one thing. Dana White is only forthcoming when it is in his best interests.
The sheer hypocrisy of White’s actions was already indefensible, but during the UFC on Fox 4 post-fight scrum he decided to have another pop at “Shogun,” a man who had just put his body through the wringer in a gruelling, career-shortening contest with Brandon Vera.
The UFC President’s assessment of Rua’s gutsy display?
Everything about Lyoto Machida tells me he wants that title shot worse than 'Shogun' does. He'll fight anybody. You can tell he wants that title shot worse than 'Shogun,' in my opinion, and he looked good tonight. He knocked Bader out convincingly. He didn't take any damage, and he had a good showing against Jones in his last fight.
Let’s examine a couple of the dubious claims in the above quote, shall we?
Apparently suffering from a brief bout of daytime soap opera-style amnesia, White states that Machida will “fight anybody.” One assumes that “anybody” also includes Rashad Evans, whom “The Dragon” flat-out refused to fight unless he received “Anderson Silva money.”
How about the notion that Machida wants the title shot more than Rua? Such a plainly ridiculous claim would ordinarily be ignored, but I will briefly indulge Dana White’s baseless assertion.
It is difficult to see how anyone can witness the pain endured by “Shogun” on Saturday night and then, with a straight face, argue that his will was somehow lacking.
Machida certainly deserves the next shot at Jones—or indeed Henderson, should something extraordinary occur. However, no amount of casuistry will convince me that Machida’s calculated performance demonstrated that he was willing to do more in order to earn a title shot.
The UFC President attempted to bolster his claim by arguing that “Shogun” did not protest the decision to not award him the next shot.
Of course he didn’t accost White or Joe Silva and demand that they change their minds. He, and everyone else, knew that Machida had looked the more impressive of the two fighters.
But perhaps more importantly, one gets the impression that Rua has far too much respect for the UFC brass to start making demands.
In turn, hasn’t Mauricio “Shogun” Rua earned more respect than is currently being offered by the UFC’s head honcho? He turned down a fight that didn’t best serve his career prospects. Surely Dana White can relate to such acts of self-preservation, given his own business savvy.
Failing that, one hopes the UFC President will realise that holding a petty grudge is both childish and unproductive. Perhaps then he will extend to “Shogun” a modicum of respect. I’m sure the old warhorse would take that walking away.
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