Former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion and former Pride middleweight grand prix champion Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua was following in his brother’s footsteps with regards to martial arts. Shogun began training muay thai at the now infamous “Chute Boxe Academy” in his early teens alongside his brother Murilo ‘Ninja’ Rua. Less than a few years later Shogun began training brazilian jiu jitsu as well, and years later he would rise to the level of black belt under Antonio Schembri.
Shogun’s first mixed martial arts bout took place on November 8, 2002 at the Meca World Vale Tudo 7 card against Rafael Freitas. Exactly four minutes into the first round, Shogun would have his first mma victory via head kick. Shogun would rattle off two more knockout wins in the organization until he was invited to the IFC Global Domination Tournament. Shogun picked up a knockout win over Erik Wanderley in the first round of the tournament, but later in the night Shogun would be forced to tap by Renato ‘Babalu’ Sobral in the third round, and he picked up his first MMA loss.
Pride Fighting was in its sixth year when Shogun made his debut. Rua used his voraciousness and muay thai to win a first round knockout over Akira Shoji at Pride Bushido 1. Rua was able to land a left hook that sent Shoji to the canvas and all it took was one foot stomp from Shogun to pick up his first of many Pride wins. The brutal knockout of Shoji would send a message to all of the Pride middleweights, and the win would kick off one of the best runs in Pride history. In 2004, Shogun would pick up two more knockout wins via soccer kick coming over Akihiro Gono and Yasuhito Namekawa.
While Shogun put the Pride middleweight division on notice in 2004, it was 2005 that was really Rua’s coming out party. In February of that year, Rua took on Hiromitsu Kanehara and finished him early in the first round via soccer kick, and the win earned him a slot in the 2005 Middleweight Grand Prix tournament. Rua would face off against future UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Quinton Jackson and once again it was Shogun would pick up a first round knockout win via soccer kick. Months later in the quarterfinals, Rua would face Antônio Rogério Nogueira and pick up a unanimous decision win in a fight that many considered to be the fight of the year.
The 2005 Middleweight Grand Prix semifinals and finals took place at Pride Final Conflict 2005. Rua would face Alistair Overeem in his first bout of the night, and Rua would get the TKO win over Overeem a little over halfway through the first round. Later in the night, Shogun took on the always tough Ricardo Arona. Shogun would pick up the early knockout win and would walk out of the tournament as the Grand Prix Champion.
2006 got off to a rocky start for Shogun. Shogun took on future UFC Hall of Famer Mark Coleman and less than fifty seconds into the round disaster struck. Coleman would shoot on a takedown and Rua put his hand down to break the fall. All of Shogun’s and Coleman’s weight fell on the outstretched arm of Rua, and at 49 seconds into the round Shogun’s arm snapped. The bout was waived off and Rua left the ring with his first, and only, Pride loss. Shogun would go on to pick up a knockout win over Cyrille Diabate, a submission win over Kevin Randleman and a decision over Kazuhiro Nakamura to round out the year. In his las Pride bout, Shogun took on Alistair Overeem in a rematch, and once again knocked out the future heavyweight in the first round. By the end of his run in Pride, many outlets had Rua ranked as the number one light heavyweight in the world.
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When Zuffa, parent company of the UFC, bought the remaining assets of Pride Fighting, it included multiple contracts. Rua’s contract would be one of those and Rua wouldn’t be on the sidelines very long waiting for a UFC fight. Rua would take on Forrest Griffin at UFC 76, and prior to the match rumors began circling about the condition of Shogun’s leg. The fight was not the debut Rua was looking for, and in the third round of Shogun’s lackluster performance, Rua tapped to rear naked choke and picked up his first real loss in four years. Shogun would spend all of 2008 rehabbing his knee after surgery following the fight.
Shogun would step back into the octagon at UFC 93 in Dublin, Ireland in a rematch against Mark Coleman. The bout saw another uninspiring performance by Shogun, but late in the fight Rua was able to overwhelm Coleman with strikes and get the TKO win with less than 30 seconds left in the bout. Rua would then take on former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion, and future UFC Hall Of Famer, Chuck Liddell. Rua would finish Liddell with strikes with 30 seconds left in the round. The win catapulted Shogun into the top ten of the division, and when the deck was shuffled Rua would be tapped to take on the newly crowned Light Heavyweight Champion Lyoto Machida.
UFC 104: Machida Vs Rua took place in October in Los Angeles, California. Machida and Rua fought for 5 close rounds, but it was Machida who was declared the winner by unanimous decision. Many MMA Fans, pundits, and even UFC President Dana White scored the bout in favor of Shogun, and with mounting pressure from the fans White announced there would be a rematch. Rua wasted no time when he fought Machida at UFC 113. At 3:18 into round 1, Rua landed a left hand that sent Machida to the octagon floor. Rua swarmed with a barrage of punches, and before the ref could get in and save Machida, he was already out cold. Shogun Rua walked out as the new Light Heavyweight Champion.
After the bout, Rua would have surgery a second time on his knee.. He was expected to fight Rashad Evans, but Evans had become injured while training for the championship. The UFC decided that Current Champion Jon Jones would step in on late notice, and face Shogun. Shogun would lose the title and pick up his second UFC loss. His UFC title run ended as quickly as it began when he was finished by Jones in the third round via strikes. Later in the year Shogun would rematch with Forrest Griffin at UFC 134. Shogun would avenge the loss with a first round knockout over the former champion.
Rua would fight one more time in 2011, and boy was it a good one. He would fight former Pride Champion Dan Henderson at UFC 139, and the two went at it for 5 hard rounds of back and forth action. While a majority of fans and pundits scored the bout for Rua, Henderson was announced the winner by unanimous decision. The fight earned fight of the night honors, and many sources named the bout fight of the year.
Shogun fought twice in 2012 ending the year 1-1. Shogun was able to pick up the TKO win over Brandon Vera, but he fell short in a gutsy war with future number one contender Alexander Gustafsson. Rua has only fought one time in 2013. Shogun faced off against Chael Sonnen in August, and when Shogun left his head in a bad spot on a takedown, Sonnen grabbed ahold of his neck and forced him to tap late in the first round.
Mauricio Shogun Rua is set to face to James Te-Huna at UFC Fight Night 33 in Brisbane.
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