UFC 139 Fight Card: Shogun Rua's 10 Career-Defining Moments
Shogun Rua is a fighter who has seen his fair share of ups and downs over his career. With UFC 139 later tonight, we will once again see the knockout specialist enter the cage and hopefully perform at his best.
He has had success in multiple organizations, won major titles and astonished fans across the world with his aggressive, take no prisoners style of fighting.
Win or lose, here are the top 10 moments which helped define the career of Shogun Rua.
Submission Loss to Renato "Babalu" Sobral at IFC: Global Domination
Shogun faced his first real test on September 6th, 2003 against a top-level fighter when he faced off against Babalu Sobral during the semifinals of the IFC light-heavyweight tournament.
Despite suffering a controversial submission loss via guillotine choke late in the third round of the fight, he showed he could be competitive with one of the sport's veteran elites.
While both fighters went on to have success, it was Shogun who would eventually capture the UFC light-heavyweight title that Babalu failed to secure when he fought for the title against then-champion Chuck Liddell at UFC 62.
TKO Win over Quinton "Rampage" Jackson at PRIDE Total Elimination 2005
After losing to Babalu, Shogun amassed four straight wins over Japanese fighters in Pride, all ending the same as his other wins, via (T)KO.
Despite his win streak, he was the heavy underdog going into the Pride 2005 Middleweight Grand Prix against favorite Rampage Jackson.
The two faced off on April 23rd, 2005 and Shogun was able to put all the critics to rest when he soccer-kicked Rampage to a TKO victory at 4:47 of the first round and secured his place in the tournament.
Decision Win over Antonio Rogerio Nogueira at PRIDE Critical Countdown 2005
Both fighters were coming off first-round victories coming into the quarterfinals of the Pride 2005 Middleweight GP, but only one would be able to continue.
This was not only a matchup of two greater fighters, but of two great training camps, as Shogun hailed from Chute Box while Lil Nog trained at rival school Brazilian top team.
Even though Shogun wasn't able to finish the fight, he demonstrated the ability to go the distance against a very well-rounded top-level fighter. This fight would go on to be the Sherdog 2005 Fight of the Year.
Winning the Middleweight Grand Prix Championship at PRIDE Total Elimination 2005
This was an event where we saw Shogun KO Alistar Overeem in the first round, Ricardo Arona win a unanimous decision over Pride Middleweight Champion Wanderlei Silva and then saw each winner face off in the finals for the Grand Prix Championship.
Shogun would go on to defeat Arona via KO and become the 2005 Middleweight GP champion and secure his place as one of the best fighters in the world. And all this happened under one roof on August 28th, 2005.
Submission Loss to Forrest Griffin at UFC 76
When Pride ceased operations, the UFC welcomed Shogun with open arms. They even gave him a fight against one of their most visible fighters in Forrest Griffin before hopefully setting him up with a title shot. He considered by many as the top light-heavyweight in the world, after all.
Unfortunately things didn't work out as planned, and a visibly exhausted Shogun lost to the underrated original Ultimate Fighter.
Griffin would go on to claim the UFC championship, where as Shogun would be out of action for over a year due to a knee injury suffered during the fight. When he did return he would go on to fight three times that year, to include his first crack at the title.
While this is a fight which saw Griffin claim one of his greatest wins, it is also a turning point in Shogun's career where the fighter we saw return to action and finish Chuck Liddell and Lyoto Machida was remarkable improved.
Speaking of Chuck Liddell...
TKO Win over Chuck Liddell at UFC 97
This was the fight that earned Shogun his eventual title shot, while at the same time was a part of The Iceman's downfall.
It also helped silence many critics who felt all the hype he earned in Pride was not worthy. We saw him end a fight in early, dominate fashion for the first time in the UFC and learned what a healthy, in-shape Shogun could do in the UFC.
Decision Loss to Lyoto Machida at UFC 104
Quite possibly one of the most controversial decisions in recent UFC history, this championship matchup saw the undefeated karate expert Machida take on veteran knockout artist Shogun Rua.
The bout was a very close back and fourth which saw Machida use his movement and stance to avoid significant strikes and focus on counter striking, where as Shogun was the aggressor pushing the pace and taking apart Machida's speed with devastating leg kicks.
There are many who say Shogun won the fight, but the judges felt differently that night and Machida retained the belt. Fortunately for Shogun, Dana White felt the match warranted an immediate rematch.
Despite the loss, Shogun showed the world why he was once considered the top light-heavyweight fighter in the world, and almost laid to rest the idea he lacked the cardio to compete at such an elite level.
KO Win over Lyoto Machida at UFC 113
Just as much as Shogun showed how he could go the distance in his last fight with Machida, he equally demonstrated his ability to knock out a fighter with his right fist.
Shogun not only ended Machida's undefeated record, but he was also the first, and to this date only, Pride champion to later capture an undisputed UFC title*.
*Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira was the inaugural Pride heavyweight champion and later interim UFC heavyweight champion, and Mark Coleman was the inaugural UFC heavyweight champion and later the Pride FC 2000 Openweight GP champion.
TKO Loss to Jon Jones at UFC 128
After Shogun ended the "Machida Era," many felt that we had finally found a champion who would be able to hold and successfully defend the UFC light-heavyweight title more than once, which had not been done since Chuck Liddell held the belt, and before him Tito Ortiz.
Despite Jon Jones' rising star, it still appeared he had been thrown to the wolves when he was being given a shot at the champ after his win over Ryan Bader. Jones quickly put the critics to rest when he deposed of the champ halfway through the third round.
Rua attributed his poor performance in the fight to a flying knee landed by Jones at the beginning of the first round. Jones' dominating performance also left the possibly of a rematch anytime soon out of the question for many.
KO Win over Forrest Griffin at UFC 134: Brazil
Not only was Shogun able to score a big win in his home country of Brazil at UFC 134, but he did so by avenging one of his losses when he knocked out Forrest Griffin at 1:53 in the first round.
While Forrest was once again the underdog in this fight, he was still coming off back-to-back wins over former UFC champion fighters Rich Franklin and Tito Ortiz, not to mention he's a former UFC champion himself with a victory over Rampage Jackson.
The biggest lesson learned from this fight was that for the third time in his career, Shogun was able to avenge a previous loss, and that he has, to this date, never lost to the same fighter twice.
Win or Lose, Will His Fight vs. Dan Henderson Make This List?
For a man who's done so much in the sport of mixed martial arts, it's a wonder he is still making waves after nine years and 26 fights.
The fight with Dan Henderson is one that has been long in the making, going back to the days of Pride. Win or lose, there is little doubt it will go on each fighter's top 10 list of career-defining moments.
Leave your comments below, and if you've ordered it or you're at a bar, enjoy the fight!
Follow Justin Alonzo-Fuller on Twitter @jalonzofuller
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