The Iceman Vs. Shogun: The Break Down

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The Iceman Vs. Shogun: The Break Down
(Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)

Well, like always, I’ve decided to write an article on the Shogun vs. Iceman fight after reading a couple of puff pieces on this site. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: If you’re gonna write an article on here, make it have some substance and not just some non-useful “insight” on a fight. Come with some original thought, please.

Anyway. Mauricio “Shogun” Rua is a former middleweight grand prix winner in Pride FC and a former member of the lethal Chute Boxe club from Brazil who holds a record of 17-3. He is a BJJ black belt under Nino Schembri and a Muay Thai fighter.

His opponent is Chuck “Iceman” Liddell, the former UFC light heavyweight champion who holds a record of 21-6. He is a Kempo fighter with a background in wrestling.

Their more recent records make this fight the most intriguing because it seems to say that both men need this fight to stay relevant to the division. Liddell has been put on notice by his BFF Dana White that, in order to even stay in the UFC, he needs to win and look good doing it. 

Both men looked subpar in their last performance,s with Liddell being KOd by Rashad Evans and Shogun winning by a TKO over Mark Coleman while looking very sluggish and needing the last round to pull off the victory.

Standing

The stand-up game is where both men make their living. Liddell was once considered the most feared striker in MMA and his TKO winning percentage more than proves that. 13 of his 21 victories have come by way of KO or TKO, which is nearly 70 percent. The amazing thing about that is that he is, for the most part, a counter-puncher. He is great at backing up and unloading his right hand with tremendous power.

However, his downfall in many of his losses is that his unorthodox style leaves him open to jabs, straight punches, and uppercut. He leaves his hands low, and when he throws his left hand, it leaves him open to a counter right hook.

Shogun, on the other hand, has a more technical striking ability. Like the Iceman, Shogun has a very high winning percentage by KO or TKO. His TKO percentage is 82 percent, easily one of the highest ever. He is highly trained in Muay Thai, so his leg kicks and knees in the clinch are more than capable of delivering a KO blows.

His is super aggressive; however, this truly could be a bad thing in this fight. He has a tendency to walk straight in, stalking his opponents, which is normally a plus for him, but he is going to have to use angles in order to be effective in this fight.

Giving this to any one of these fighters is really tough because both are KO machines.  Some have said that without soccer kicks and head stomps, Shogun is a different guy, and I don’t really feel that way.

He is just as effective in the clinch and with his hand that not having those abilities isn’t limiting. That said, I think that Chuck still has one-punch knockout power and that Shogun has to step up the KO with jabs and leg kicks. 

Chuck has been working lately with some of the coaches at ATT, and hopefully that means that his defense is getting locked down, which in his last few fights has been the overwhelming negative for him. 

Calling this one is harder than I thought, as Chuck’s one-punch KO power vs. Shogun’s more effective weapons make it even. However, I’m gonna call this a draw with a slight, and I mean slight, edge going to Shogun.

Ground

Again, both men have huge pluses in regards to this facet of the MMA game. Both have great foundations that help them dictate where and how they win the fight. However, both men use their skills in completely different ways.

As I stated before, Shogun has a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and although he doesn’t have a large number of submission wins under his belt (just one, to be exact), he has displayed how effective it can be. He put on one of the best knee bars in MMA history in his fight with Kevin Randleman, which was a transition from a beautiful foot lock that had Randleman screaming in pain. 

Shogun used to use his takedown abilities to stand in one’s guard to then kick the crap out of fighters in Pride, but recently has shown a developing ground and pound game.  With all that said, I think taking this fight to the ground will be hard for him to do.

Why? Because of Chuck Liddell’s world-famous sprawl. Chuck was a high school and college wrestler. He doesn’t use his wrestling abilities to take down a fighter but to keep the fight standing. That’s not to say that he can’t take people down—you can ask Wanderlei Silva about how good his takedowns are—he just prefers to sprawl and get the fight to its feet, which for him is a good thing. 

In a recent interview with Joe Rogan at the UFN, Chuck stated that he had been working on his takedowns, which may lead me to believe that he may try and take down Shogun, something different for him.

Again this one is difficult to give this part to. Shogun has the ability to finish any fighter via submission, but normally wins by TKO, and Chuck has one of the best sprawls in MMA. If Chuck is truly going to try and take down Shogun, then it could be a mistake by Liddell, but I think Chuck has the upper hand in this category solely due to his sprawl.

The Extras

This boils down to one question: Is Shogun’s cardio where it needs to be? In the Forrest fight, Shogun had a damaged right knee that needed surgery on twice. After the healing process, he fought Mark Coleman and was gassed after the first round.

I get all that, but people need to remember that after a surgery like he had, the last thing you fully regain is your cardio. You can rehab the knee for strength and flexibility before you can get the timing aspects of cardio. I can’t say I know from experience, but I helped my brother with this when he played football, and it took him forever to get back in playing shape after a similar surgery. 

You just have difficulty being able to go hard if you’re not at least at 90 percent, and in my honest opinion, I don’t think he was in the Coleman fight. Truth is, I don’t think he will be at 100 percent in this fight, but a Shogun at 90 percent is better than most others at full strength.

The other question is, how far away is Chuck from the dominant fighter he used to be?  If one thing is certain about the Iceman, it’s that the pre-Rampage fight Chuck Liddell will not be coming back any time soon. If you have to change up your entire prefight camp in order to stay relevant, then something is wrong. He is much older and is fighting a guy in Shogun who traditionally he has had problems with.

Chuck is at his peak when he is facing a fighter who stands in front of him and tries to out-punch him when the fighter has no business doing that. His two wins over Tito, Randy, Babalu, Vernon White, and Horn shows this to the T. When he doesn’t have the power to stun, he is free to shot from the hips.

However, in his losses to Rampage, Jardine, and Rashad, it shows that if he has good head movement and power to his punches, then he can’t just shoot from the hip.

Prediction

Both of these men have ways to win this fight, but for me it boils down to who has more opportunity and more weapons. For that reason, I’m going with the younger and more technically-sound Mauricio “Shogun” Rua. How he wins may be a stretch, but I think that Chuck will try to make this a ground fight, which will be his downfall. 

In short, the fight will be stopped by submission, with Shogun winning via a second-round RNC.

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