Murilo "Ninja" Rua is looking forward to a busy spring. The brother of UFC's "Shogun" and a former EliteXC middleweight champion, Rua is eyeing fights in the coming months at DREAM.13 and Shine Fights 3.
In this exclusive interview with MMA Fighting through a translator, Rua talks returning to fight in Brazil, his younger brother's rematch against Lyoto Machida and his own upcoming fights.
Ray Hui: What was your decision to sign with Shine as opposed to fighting for Strikeforce?
Murilo "Ninja" Rua: I think Shine has the potential to be one of the most exciting MMA shows in the world. They are signing some very talented fighters and have interesting plans, so why not join them? They treated me with respect and presented me a great opportunity, and I'm very happy and looking forward to fighting in Shine. I think Strikeforce is also a great promotion, but right now as far as America goes I'll be fighting for Shine Fights, and they will allow me to keep fighting in other countries like Brazil and Japan.
Hui: Are you still with DREAM?
Rua: I still have two fights left in my DREAM deal, and I'm looking forward to fighting on their next card in March.
Hui: Shine hasn't announced a date yet for your fight. When are you going to begin your training camp to prepare for Falaniko Vitale?
Rua: As far as I know the next Shine Fights will be on April 24th, and that's the date we're looking for so far. I'm training hard already because I'm waiting confirmation to fight on the DREAM March card, and only after that I'll get into specifics for Vitale. But I think we match up well, as we're both well-rounded and it will be a very good fight for the fans to watch.
Hui: How do you view Vitale?
Rua: I think Vitale is experienced, well-rounded and has a lot of heart. In some senses, he's a lot like myself, although we have different styles. I think he brings skills to the table in all areas, and so do I, and that's what makes this fight exciting, cause there'll be action all over.
Hui: Last year you got to fight twice in Brazil. What was it like fighting back at home for the first time since the beginning of your career?
Rua: It was great! Amaury Bitetti made a big effort to bring big names back to fight in Brazil on his show Bitetti Combat. So guys like Pedro Rizzo, Ricardo Arona, Paulo Filho and myself fought in his show, and I think that was much needed to give the Brazilian MMA scene a boost. For me, it was a great feeling to fight in front of your fans, and not have to suffer with the jet-lag, long trips, different weather, etc. This is a part of the fight game that is underrated, and overlooked. I mean, we're professionals and we're used to it, but we're all the time fighting in countries with different time zones, flying 12, 15, even 24 hours to fight, etc. It's nice to be on other side for a while [Laughs.].
Hui: Shogun was involved in a controversial decision loss against Machida. What your thoughts on the decision and how do you see the rematch going?
Rua: Obviously I'm biased, but I think my brother won the fight. I know it was a close fight, and it should be because Lyoto is also a great fighter, but I would score it four rounds to my brother because I think he was stalking for most of the fight while landing more strikes, and most of Lyoto's strikes were blocked by him. Still, it's in the past and it's all history now. We have to focus on the rematch, and my brother is already training hard for it. He will make the needed adjustments, and I'm confident when he is well-trained, he is the best in the world at his weight class.
Hui: You've been fighting for a long time and I think people forget the fact that you're still 29 years old. Do you think your best is yet to come?
Rua: I hope so! [Laughs.] Being a fighter is not easy, and I have been trough a lot already. I think we have to try to be always learning, improving and using the experience we get. Regardless, I love to fight and whenever I do fight there's never a boring fight, cause I always give my heart out in my fights, so I hope the fans understand and appreciate that, cause there's a lot still to come!