Just over three years ago, Mauricio "Shogun" Rua was the UFC’s light heavyweight champion, a beloved Pride standout loved by hardcore MMA fans, and one of the hottest names in the Ultimate Fighting Championship. Beating Rua, an unconventional yet lion-hearted champion, wasn't expected to be easy.
Jon Jones ended Rua's reign as soon as it began, thrashing him for three rounds, taking the 205-pound division’s title with him. His career has hit a standstill since. Shogun has gone 3-4 since that encounter, taking him out of the title picture.
The MMA standout’s most recent defeat may have been the most debilitating. Dan Henderson, a rival who outpointed him in November of 2011, was on the verge of defeat when one right hook reversed a potentially job-losing defeat into a certain highlight reel KO.
Henderson had lost his last three fights heading into the cage to meet Shogun at UFC Fight Night in Natal, Brazil. He seemed slow, undistinguished, and frustrated through three rounds. Henderson’s come-from-behind victory proves how pernicious those defensive errors can be, and how you can never count out a puncher like Hendo despite the fact he was losing to a fresher fighter with better technique and preparedness going into the bout.
The heart of a fighter works in brilliant ways, and Rua now has another loss pinned on his record.
Hendo will now step up to challenge Daniel Cormier. He's at the mercy of father time and Cormier's intense ground game.
Mauricio Rua is at the mercy of his own hunger and the UFC's willingness to give him another big fight.
The light heavyweight division is deep. He can get a fight, but not against a top five opponent. Rua is currently #7 at Light Heavyweight.
If I'm likeminded to Shogun Rua, and he's up for the whole rebuilding process, Rafael Cavalcante might be his man.
Cavalcante, a native of Rio De Janiero, makes sense as an opponent for Shogun. This fight could sell in Brazil as a "Fight Night" headliner. Cavalcante won his last fight and is ranked #13 in the UFC's official ratings.
This is nothing but speculation, of course. Shogun Rua's career is all but decisive at the moment. Whatever he chooses to do, one can hope the MMA community support his decision.