There is no doubt that Mauricio Rua is one of the best mixed martial artists of all-time. The former Pride Middleweight and UFC Light Heavyweight champion, nicknamed “Shogun”, has defeated three Hall-of-Famers in Forrest Griffin, Mark Coleman and Chuck Liddell in his illustrious career. But after a knockout loss to Dan Henderson last March 23rd, Shogun entered the Octagon on Saturday looking to answer questions about his longevity. After the fight, he is left searching for answers instead.
Opportunity of a Lifetime
Rua suffered his second straight knockout loss this year when he was stopped very early in the first round by replacement opponent Ovince St. Preux during their main event bout at UFC Fight Night 56 in Uberlandia, Brazil. It was supposed to be a homecoming for the 32-year old Rua but instead, St. Preux grabbed what he called “an opportunity of a lifetime” and turned it to the greatest performance of his career.
St. Preux was supposed to fight in that event’s co-main event against Francimar Barroso. But when Rua’s original opponent Jimi Manuwa was injured, the St. Preux-Barroso match was cancelled and St. Preux was promoted to the main event. Before the fight, St. Preux said that in order for him to become a legend, he must beat a legend. And he did that impressively, in just 34 seconds.
A Fallen Hero
The Brazilian crowd was stunned and silenced as St. Preux unleashed unanswered left hands to finish off the fallen Rua who was helpless in a seated position at the fence. Before that sequence, St. Preux dropped Shogun with a short counter left hook after Rua tried to land his patented right overhand. Rua was out and it was only referee Mario Yamasaki’s stoppage that prevented further damage.
Rua has now lost four out of his last five bouts, three by stoppage. Since losing the UFC light heavyweight title to Jon Jones in 2011, Rua is just 3-5. The 32-year old Brazilian’s durability has been questioned in the last couple of years as the wear and tear of a long MMA career looks like it’s taken its toll on one of Brazil’s favorite heroes.
Not the Time to Retire
Rua refused to call it a career after the fight, saying that he is still happy to be fighting and the UFC is happy to have him in its roster, referring to his new eight fight contract with Zuffa. But after the loss to St. Preux, Rua is sure to drop out of the top ten rankings and may be too far in rank to fight for the title once again. The UFC’s light heavyweight division is stacked with a lot of younger talent like Alexander Gustaffson, Daniel Cormier, Anthony Johnson and champion Jon Jones. Rua has already lost to Jones and Gustaffson in the past while it doesn’t seem like he will be able to match up against the heftier Cormier and Rumble Johnson. With these in mind, Rua heads home to rest and begin his search for answers.