Once known as the best fighter in the world at 205 pounds before a series of nasty injuries and surgeries that forced him to the sidelines, Mauricio “Shogun” Rua is driven to show the world that he is same great fighter he was in the past.
The 27 year old Brazilian will make his return to the octagon at UFC 93 on January 17th against another former champion that will be looking to return to his original form, Pride Grand Prix champion and UFC hall of famer, Mark “The Hammer” Coleman. The two modern day gladiators are far from strangers.
Rua was at the peak of his young career when the two faced off previously in Japan back in February of 2006. He was riding an eight fight win streak that included a PRIDE Grand Prix Tournament championship and a first round battering of former UFC light heavyweight champion, Quinton “Rampage” Jackson.
The pairs previous bout ended abruptly only 49 seconds into the match when Rua suffered a nasty injury attempting to defend a Coleman takedown. Twisting around while trying to free himself from the double leg takedown attempt, Rua fell face first toward the canvas. When he tried to brace himself by posting his arm out, his elbow was violently dislocated which caused his arm to bend backwards.
A wild scene followed as Rua’s brother, Murilo “Ninja” Rua, rushed to his brothers aide and Coleman was apparently confused as to why the bout had been stopped. Ninja jumped up in the defense of his brother when it appeared as if Coleman was aggressively advancing towards the injured fighter. A small melee erupted involving both corners which included Phil Baroni who was in Coleman’s corner and Wanderlei Silva who had been watching at ringside.
After repeatedly asking his manager for a rematch with Coleman, Rua will finally have an opportunity to give this fight a proper ending and re establish himself amongst the best in the game all on the same night.
While many seem to see this fight as a classic grudge match, Rua told FiveOuncesOfPain.com in an exclusive interview done in the days leading up to his fight with Coleman that he doesn’t see it that way.
“I wouldn’t call it bad blood,” explained Rua. “I spoke with Coleman after our first fight and we got somewhat into terms.”
“However, as a fighter I want to prove that our first fight was an accident and I didn’t like the way he celebrated it like if it was a totally legit win.”
Rua has the utmost respect for Coleman and all of his accomplishments in the sport of mixed martial arts. A healthy dose of respect and a thorough understanding of the Coleman’s decisive advantage in the octagon. An advantage that he does not feel will be enough.
“I think he is a great fighter, a legend,” said Rua. “He is a great wrestler but I think I’m better at jiu-jitsu and striking. Plus, I have better cardio. I think it’s a good match up for me in theory.”
Rua has had plenty of time to heal up from an extensive knee surgery that was performed following his loss to Forrest Griffin in his UFC debut. The injury had been plaguing Rua long before his bout with Griffin and the loss left him without any alternative than to take care of the problem, the right way.
“My injuries are healed so I’m feeling in great shape,” exclaimed Rua. “I feel great. I’m well-trained, in good shape and have little weight to cut for the fight.”
“I’m feeling fast, my cardio is good and I have been working a lot on my power.”
Both Shogun and his brother Ninja left the Academy that they had been training with since the beginning of their careers in Curitiba, Brazil back in January of 2008 to from their own gym called Universidade da Luta which translates to University of Fighting. The new camp is coming together nicely and has been absolutely instrumental in helping the electrifying fighter make his return to action.
“I have been training a lot at my new team, UDL, and our preparation has been very intense,” said Rua. “My BJJ coach is Cristiano Carioca, a guy from Manaus, up in the north of Brazil. He has formed several BJJ world champions at many belts, including black.”
“I have been training Muay Thai with Fernando “Fefe” Falkenbac, who brought his whole stable of fighters from Thai Brasil, his own Muay Thai academy, to be my sparring partners. He studies the game a lot and travels to Thailand every now and then.”
“It was really good to get back to my Muay Thai roots.”
Curitiba,Brazil has long been a hot bed for up and coming talent in the world of mixed martial arts, with elite fighters like Anderson and Wanderlei Silva calling the town home at some point. The abundace of talent confined to the small area has helped Rua in countless ways, with plenty of experienced training partners to spar with at any time at the top of that list.
“We have my Boxing coach, Danilo Dourado, and everyone works together co-ordinating the MMA training with the help of many sparring partners,” said Rua. “I had a lot of training partners for this one like like my brother Murilo Ninja Rua, my youngest, but bigger brother, Marcos Rua, Joao Paulo Tuba, Saulo, Nino Schembri, BJJ world champ Fernando Vieira, Imerson, Simpson, Pimpolho and many other guys that come in from time to time to help out.”
Al of the time to heal properly and long sparring sessions with all of his men at UDL has left Rua overflowing with confidence going into one of the most pivotal bouts in his career.
“You never really know what can happen in a fight and I respect Coleman but obviously I have to be confident,” explained Rua. “I see the fight ending with a submission from the bottom, or a knockout standing up.”
“I’m focusing on defeating Coleman and winning the fight. Every time I fight I try to do have exciting fight and this time isn’t going to be any different. There are things that are consequence of our work and if I have a good fight, naturally people are gonna like it. The main thing in my mind is to win and show my true potential.”
Rua would be lying if he didn’t say that his ultimate goal with the UFC is to become the light heavyweight champion at some point but he is smart enough to know that you have to take things one step at a time in this business.
“I think the goal of every fighter is to become champion,” said Rua. “To be the best at what you do and to be the best right now, you have to be the UFC champion. The UFC is running great shows and to become the champion would be a great feeling but I have to take things step by step and right now all I’m thinking about is Mark Coleman.”
Rua is eager to show all of the people that have stuck with him throughout the ups and downs of his career that they can expect the old Shogun to show up on January 17th. He promises that his performance against Coleman in Dublin, Ireland will be a sign of what is to come from the extremely talented and well rounded fighter in the future.
“I treasure my fans,” explained Rua. “Every time I fight I try to give my best and make an exciting fight for all of them. They can be sure that there will be many more exciting fights from me in the future and that I will be training hard to show that I’m still the same fighter I was in the past. I’m always trying to improve.”
“I would like to thank all my fans for their support in this difficult time of injuries, it feels great to be back. I also want to thank Bad Boy, for their support sponsoring me trough my hard times, and my other sponsors like Midway Supplements and Red Dragon Fight Club. I can’t forget to thank my new team, UDL, and all the trainers, Danilo Dourado, Fernando Falkenback, Cristiano Carioca, who have been training me hard believing in my comeback, as well as my sparring partners who have worked hard for this fight with me.”