It’s not Chuck Liddell, not Wanderlei Silva, and it’s not Tito Ortiz. Mauricio “Shogun” Rua is the greatest light heavyweight of all time.
When I first started this search of who would be the very best of the division, my search began with two names: the Ice Man and the Axe Murderer. Then I began looking deep into resumes.
This division was tough to sort out; however, when all of the smoke cleared and the dust settled, It was Shogun that stood above the rest.
PRIDE 2005 Grand Prix
Wanderlei Silva, Dan Henderson, Alistair Overeem, Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, Igor Vovchanchyn, Kevin Randleman, Ricardo Arona, Shogun Rua. These are just some of the names that graced what is now being called the greatest MMA tournament of all time.
The winner of that talent-rich tournament was none other than Mauricio “Shogun” Rua.
Shogun defeated Rampage Jackson and Rogerio Nogueira within 60 days, then finished both Alistair Overeem and Ricardo Arona on the same night to take home the crown in the Grand Prix.
Within a 15-fight stretch, Shogun went 13-2 with his only true loss coming to Forrest Griffin. In that stretch, he defeated light heavyweight king Chuck Liddell, current UFC light heavyweight Cyrille Diabate, Kevin Randleman and the aforementioned 2005 Grand Prix victims.
In combat sports, sometimes it’s not your victories that define you, but your losses. At a glance you’d see that Shogun has lost six times out of the 27 fights he’s fought.
Take a closer look, however, and you’ll only see four. Shogun lost to Mark Coleman in a match where he broke his arm falling back from a Coleman takedown. A few years later he would avenge that “loss.”
In the UFC, Shogun has lost decisions to Dan Henderson and Lyoto Machida. The Machida match was highly disputed, so much that Shogun was given an immediate rematch, which he won.
If there’s one thing you can count on in a Shogun fight is that it’s going to be a battle. He’s a one time KO of the Year winner and a two time Fight of the Year winner. His iron chin and champion’s heart keeps him in every fight.
And with 19 of his 21 wins coming by way of KO or submission, you can bet that 90 percent of the time, Shogun is going to finish the job.
Shogun is still going strong today and can only hope to add to what has been a great career. As a PRIDE Grand Prix champion and UFC light heavyweight champion he has become one of the most decorated light heavyweights in MMA history.
His resume when put up against his contemporaries will be second to none, and the run he had in PRIDE will go down as one of the all-time greats. As he should.
So to the old school PRIDE fans, Shogun will be one of the all-time greats to ever put on a pair of 4-oz gloves. However on the flip side, one generation will remember him as the guy who got finished by Jon Jones after a long layoff.
The truth is that Shogun has quietly been the best light heavyweight ever to step foot in the ring or cage.
Don’t agree? Then feel free to debate it out in the comments.