Rua vs. Gustafsson: Shogun Rua Will Wreck Alexander Gustafsson

Mark Pare@NEPats17Correspondent IIDecember 6, 2012

Rua vs. Gustafsson: Shogun Rua Will Wreck Alexander Gustafsson

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    Mauricio "Shogun" Rua has been alternating wins and losses since he defeated Chuck Liddell in April 2009.

    He will look for his first two-fight win streak since then when he faces a tough Swede in Alexander Gustafsson.

    It has been a tough road for Shogun in the UFC. After sporting a 12-1 record in PRIDE and winning the 2005 PRIDE Middleweight Grand Prix, he has gone 5-4, but it hasn't been all bad, considering his reign as UFC Light-heavyweight champion.

    Gustafsson isn't one to back down from, as he is on a five-fight win streak and has only lost once in his 15 professional MMA bouts to date.

    Gustafsson has a chance to make a name for himself by defeating a legend and a top-five light-heavyweight, moving him much closer to a future title opportunity.

    But he won't...and here's why.

Gustafsson's Fist May Need More Ammo

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    It's very tough to say that Gustafsson won't knock Shogun out, but when it comes to a strikers' battle, Shogun may actually have the advantage.

    In his fight with Thiago Silva, Gustafsson had an inch-and-a-half reach advantage and he used it enough to snare points and a unanimous decision win in April.

    Shogun has a 76-inch reach to Gustafsson's 76-and-a-half. Yes, not a significant difference but it is a difference nonetheless. The kicker is that if Gustafsson can't get in his jabs as effectively on a much more-skilled striker, he's not going to catch Shogun's ironclad chin.

    This is Gustafsson's strong suit and if he can't win that one, there's always the ground game.

Shogun's Ground Game

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    Although he only has one submission victory to his credit, Shogun Rua should have the advantage in this fight if it goes to the ground.

    Gustafsson is a Brazilian Jiu-jitsu purple belt, but with years of experience and his black belt, Shogun could use this if the striking becomes overwhelming to try to gain some points if the fight goes longer.

Shogun Doesn't Like the Judges

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    History will show that Shogun Rua doesn't like when the fight goes the distance. In fact, the last two times he's gone the distance with his opponent, he lost.

    The first was a widely controversial loss to then-205 pound kingpin Lyoto Machida and then the other was his epic UFC 139 encounter with Dan Henderson, a fight that was a very close one to decide.

    Shogun won his belt because he didn't want to take risks and had a killer instinct that he displayed in another great fight—his most recent one—against Brandon Vera, a fourth-round TKO victory.

    Shogun's last six victories have been a result of punches. Shogun should be able to make it seven if he's on his game.

    What do you think?

    Mark Pare is a Featured Columnist. You can follow him on Twitter, and don't forget to check out his sportswriter page.