Last night, Dan Henderson and Mauricio “Shogun” Rua made a compelling contribution to the pantheon of the combat sport’s greatest contests. From the cage to the ground to the wild stand-up exchanges, the two MMA warlords battled through a nail-biting five rounds of combat, pushing each other to the absolute limits of their considerable wills and endurance.
Here is what their epic battle taught us about Mauricio “Shogun” Rua.
Henderson spent Rounds 2 and 3 targeting Rua’s face for H-Bombs like it was the Nevada desert, putting steel on target on several occasions.
But unlike Emeliananko, Sobral, Bisping and Wanderlei Silva before him, Rua survived in his bunker of determination, returning in the latter half of Round 4 to dominate Henderson for the remainder of the fight.
Rua took Henderson, a two-time Olympic wrestler, down five times throughout the course of the fight. The first and most impressive takedown occurred in Round 3 while Rua was absorbing a barrage of elbows.
Later in the fight, Rua scored takedown after takedown on the exhausted Henderson—but his scoop in Round 3 before Hendo gassed was the most impressive.
Throughout the fight's middle stanzas, Henderson was able to flurry on Rua, pushing him up against the cage. When this happened, Rua would cover up by placing both hands on his head. This technique left an opening for the uppercut—on which Henderson capitialized to nuclear effect.
During the fight, Joe Rogan mentioned several questions surrounding Rua’s stamina. Over the the last few years, Shogun, plagued by injuries, has seemed to gas prematurely in some of his fights.
This five-round war, whose timeline was absolutely tattooed with highlight-reel moments, put all those questions to bed and suggested that the Rua we have seen in the last two fights might well be a different Rua than the one who lost to Jon Jones.
Some will say Rua won this fight; others will confirm the judges' decision; still others, like Dana White, will call it a draw. Regardless, fans will debate the outcome of this fight for years. Both sides will have good, scholarly arguments for their positions.
But one thing is beyond debate: where many before him crumbled, Mauricio "Shogun" Rua stood—and fought back.
The man’s dogged stubborness and will to win were things to behold.