Maricio “Shogun” Rua demonstrated in Rio this past weekend that despite the background, pedigree or even the fact he lost to you in the past, all these elements do not play a factor when he has you locked in his sights and moves in to terminate the man across from him. When he debuted in Anaheim, Ca at UFC 76, he was favored to defeat Griffin with ease; after gassing out in the second round, everything went downhill and he tapped in the closing seconds of the fight for the submission loss.
Walking out to the cage in Brazil, Shogun was back. Having won and lost the UFC light heavyweight championship, Rua is able to dictate the pace of a fight with any man, the determining factor is – what shape is he entering the fight with? Rua has said in past interview that going into the Jon Jones fight, he was healed and his body was good – Jones was the better man that night. Watching that match it was clear in the first minutes that Rua was gassed and Jones was indeed the better man.
Coming off of that loss in less than six months, it appears that Shogun has returned to the vicious, winning ways that have made him the young rising star he is. Finishing the TUF 1 winner in less than two minutes in a blitzkrieg of strikes, Rua answered any questions whether he was able to compete in the top five after the Jones match. Shogun needs to fight as much and as close as possible to stay fresh; he is good when he is active – too much time off, toppled with any injury will give you a sloppy version of Shogun that we have all seen over the years.
Now the question looms – what does the UFC do with him? There is plenty for the former PRIDE champion. First up, the rubber match with Lyoto Machida; after losing a decision (which he won), he handed “The Dragon” his first loss via KO and the trilogy needs to end. They are both coming off of knockout wins over legitimate opponents and it makes sense this stage in the game. Perhaps a fight with the loser of the Jon Jones vs. Rampage Jackson title fight in September could be next for Rua. Whomever Shogun would face in that bout would be entertaining, he is capable to stand and trade (and demoralize) Jackson and perhaps a rematch with Jones there might be a different outcome if he has a quicker turnaround and not another eighteen month layoff.
Only time will tell, but for Rua’s sake, not too much time.
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