Consistency has been a major issue for Mauricio “Shogun” Rua ever since he brought his talents over to the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
The Brazilian has only secured back-to-back wins once during in his stint in the UFC (it would have been three consecutive victories if the judges didn’t rob him of the decision after his first fight against Lyoto Machida), a far cry from his days fighting under Pride FC’s banner — where he won 12 of his 13 fights, smashing up names like Alistair Overeem, Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, and Antônio “Little Nog” Rogério Nogueira.
Rua (21-7-0, 18 KOs) has seen his share of battles over the years, and he’ll be in for another tough test when he squares up against Chael Sonnen (27-13-1, 7 KOs) during the inaugural UFC fight card on Fox Sports 1 set for Aug. 17 at the TD Garden in Boston, Mass.
Worries about Sonnen not being cleared by the Massachusetts State Athletic Commission threatened the UFC on Fox Sports 1 main event earlier in the week, but the Portland native was eventually licensed so Sonnen vs. Rua will take place as scheduled.
It’s a particularly tough matchup for Rua since Sonnen’s excellent double-leg takedowns and suffocating top control might prove to be too much for the former UFC light-heavyweight champion. Given the looming possibility of losing consecutive bouts for the first time in his professional MMA career, and the fact Sonnen is still Public Enemy No. 1 in Brazil, losing is clearly not an option.
It’s no secret that one of the most effective ways to prevent a solid wrestler from putting you on your backside is by creating — and maintaining — a safe distance, so Rua enlisted Hall of Fame boxing trainer Freddie Roach in hopes of polishing his jab — which he’ll need to back Sonnen off.
“It’s been really good for me because I’ve learned some details to improve my fighting,” Rua said about his boxing sessions with Roach. “We worked a lot on my jab and my left hand to find my distance, so I can feel comfortable while fighting. He really saw an improvement in my punches because of the coaching he gave me. So, now I punch like Superman!”
Rua has always been a gifted striker, so it’ll be interesting to see if there are any noticeable improvements in his hands during his tilt against Sonnen. However, regardless of how well he maintains his distance at UFC on Fox Sports 1, “The American Ganger” will undoubtedly put him on his back a few times during their five-rounder.
Shogun’s ability to fight his way back to his feet — which is no easy task against Sonnen — and attack with submissions off his back will likely determine his fate at UFC on Fox Sports 1.