Former UFC light-heavyweight champion Mauricio “Shogun” Rua is confident he’ll be able to avenge his prior loss to fellow former champ Forrest Griffin at UFC 76. For Rua, the loss to Griffin was a rude welcoming into the world’s leading MMA brand.
“I haven’t thought much about (that) fight,” Rua told reporters at a UFC 134 media workout. “It was years ago. My main mistake then was not preparing well enough.”
Following the loss, Rua lived up to his reputation, winning three of his next four fights (his one loss was against Lyoto Machida at UFC 104; a fight most MMA experts agree he won). Rua won the rematch against Machida, capturing the UFC’s light-heavyweight title. Rua’s title reign would be short lived, losing his very next fight to current UFC light-heavyweight champion Jon Jones.
The Mauricio Rua that out-classed then undefeated fighter Lyoto Machida twice, clearly wasn’t the MMA fighter Griffin defeated at UFC 76.
Back then, Forrest was just a popular face from a reality TV show that hadn’t faced any world class MMA fighters yet. Griffin’s greatest accomplishment in the cage back then was his “Ultimate Fighter 1 Finale” win over Stephen Bonner.
It’s easy to see how a world-class MMA fighter like Rua could have taken a fighter like Forrest lightly. Forrest is quite skilled at playing mind-games with his opponents, and he used it to his advantage leading up to UFC 76.
At UFC 76, Rua was simply overwhelmed when he realized Forrest wasn’t just going to just stand there and take a beating.
“The difference is that I’ve been preparing for four months now,” Rua said. “The last time I fought Forrest, I didn’t train hard, but now I’m ready. Forrest is a good guy, a great fighter, but I’m very focused on this fight. The strategy is to strike hard early since Forrest is very athletic and very good in all facets.”
Given how stacked the UFC’s light-heavyweight division is, Rua knows another loss to Forrest will exclude him from the title conversation in the near future. In a stadium filled with Brazilian fans that haven’t seen Rua compete at home in eight years, losing will not be an option for the veteran MMA fighter.