For fighters looking to put a charge back into their careers, dropping down a weight class is a common route to travel, and it appears that particular path is one former light heavyweight champion Mauricio "Shogun" Rua is at least considering.
Where the former Pride juggernaut was once one of the most feared strikers in the game, a recent rough patch has served to take huge chunks out of the Brazilian's mystique. The 31-year-old has been dealt setbacks in three of his last four showings, including his most recent action where he suffered back-to-back losses to Alexander Gustafsson and Chael Sonnen, respectively.
In his bouts with "The Mauler" and the "Gangster from West Linn," Rua has looked like a shell of his once poetically violent former self, which has bolstered talk of the former 205-pound strap holder's best days being behind him.
Nevertheless, the former Chute Boxe wrecking machine has never been one to fade in the face of adversity, and he will be looking to get things back on track when he faces James Te Huna at Fight Night 33 on Dec. 7 when the UFC rolls through Brisbane, Australia. His bout with the Aussie slugger will undoubtedly carry a tremendous sense of urgency, as a victory would serve to keep him relevant in the light heavyweight fold, but another loss would certainly push him out of elite-level status for the time being.
When a fighter is staring down the reality of a situation such as the one Rua is currently facing, decisions have to be made to navigate the road ahead. Where his heralded resume and accomplishments would make it hard to completely discount a resurgence at 205 pounds, the current landscape of the division would make that path a difficult one to traverse.
That said, one potential avenue that could yield a bit more promise exists in the middleweight fold. While it has been the better part of a decade since Rua has competed at 185 pounds, he was once a force to be reckoned with in that weight class. With fellow former title holder Lyoto Machida recently making an impressive debut and igniting a title run after dropping down into the division, the idea of Rua cutting down to 185 pounds doesn't seem so far fetched.
That very topic arose on Friday during the Q&A he hosted prior to the weigh-in for Fight Night 32. The perennial light heavyweight contender was asked about a potential drop down to middleweight, and Rua suggested it was an option he wouldn't rule out.
"It might happen, but for now I have a fight scheduled," Rua told the crowd in attendance. "I would have to do some medical exams to see if it's possible. My normal weight is 228, 231 pounds. Maybe I can and maintain my performance. I would need to think about it, but that's something that can happen."
In addition to the circumstances surrounding his bout with Te Huna at Fight Night 33, Rua also has to consider the state of the division he currently competes in. Champion Jon Jones is tied up with Glover Teixeira, and their show down is expected to take place some time in early 2014.
Outside of the title tier at 205 pounds, there is a solid collection of fighters looking to earn championship opportunities with Alexander Gustafsson, Daniel Cormier, Rashad Evans and Chael Sonnen being the most notable of the pack. A victory over Te Huna wouldn't be enough to make a dent in that picture, which could potentially provide motivation for Rua to do his title hunting elsewhere.
Duane Finley is a featured columnist for Bleacher Report. The quotes for this article were translated and provided by MMA Fighting.