MONTREAL -- Mauricio "Shogun" Rua
has been on the shelf since shortly after capturing the UFC light-heavyweight championship last May. But after going through another in a series of knee surgeries and the subsequent rehabilitation process, Rua is healing well and on track for a March 2011 return.
That's the word from UFC president Dana White, who saw Rua just last week and has been keeping tabs on his recovery.
"Rua looks good," White said. "He was there at the [World MMA Awards last week]. He's in great shape, walking up and down the stairs really well. What happened with Shogun was, the last couple times his knee went, he had surgery down in Brazil, didn't do the proper rehab, started training too early, and ruined his knee."
The most recent procedure marked the third surgery Rua underwent in three years.
At UFC 76 in Sept. 2007, Rua faced Forrest Griffin while battling a knee problem and underwent surgery shortly after losing the bout. Months later, he withdrew from a scheduled bout with Chuck Liddell to address a blown ACL.
Since then, he's fought four times, but when he faced Lyoto Machida earlier this year at UFC 113, he tore ligaments in his knee despite winning in just 3:35. White says this time, though, the UFC and Rua made sure to do everything possible to guarantee it would be the last of his knee troubles.
"This time, he had the best doctor in the United States do his knee," White said. "He went through an incredible rehab, a perfect rehab. He took his time to rest and heal and do things the right way, so this one should work, this one should last.
"He's ready to get back in training now," White said.
Upon returning, Rua will face No. 1 contender Rashad Evans
, and though a March fight is targeted, there's still no guarantee of exactly when or where Rua's first title defense will take place.