Has any fighter ever experienced the savage, unforgiving extremes of Mixed Martial Arts as much as UFC Light-Heavyweight champ Mauricio “Shogun” Rua?
When he first came onto the scene in PRIDE in the early 2000s, he was the young phenom: the ultimate incarnation of the Brazilian “Chute Box” style; a Muay-Thai pit bull with a black belt in BJJ.
When he won the PRIDE Middleweight (205 lbs) Grand Prix in 2005, some proclaimed him the No. 1 fighter in the world, period. The hype was strong with this one.
Rua’s move to the UFC shortly thereafter was one of the most anticipated debuts in company history. To many fans, it was only a matter of time before he cleaned house in the UFC as he had in PRIDE.
Instead, a heaving, mediocre “Shogun” was handled by TUF winner Forrest Griffin en route to a humiliating submission defeat.
Rua would next go on to squeak out a win over Mark Coleman, but the Curitiba native looked so poor in victory that the W was next to meaningless. The geriatric Mark Coleman had given him the fight of his life and to many, it was a death knell for his career. The knee injuries had taken their toll, fans said. The “Shogun” who tore through PRIDE was long gone.
Then he went on to relieve Chuck Liddell of some more brain function and battered Lyoto Machida’s legs to a bruised, hobbled pulp. When he knocked out Machida clean in their title rematch in Montreal, it was a crowning moment in his career; the UFC title, long having eluded him, was finally his. Many crowned him the best 205-pound fighter in the world.
And as night follows day, the same MMA mob that rushed to heap praise on the new king is now—one year and a major knee surgery later—brushing him aside once again. Most fans have already acclaimed Rua’s UFC 128 opponent Jon Jones as the “uncrowned champion," including Jones himself.
If “Shogun” wants to defy the legions of fans writing him off yet again, he’ll have to fight his kind of fight on Saturday night.
Here are the five keys to victory for Mauricio “Shogun” Rua.