It has been over four years since Chael Sonnen’s last loss in a non-title fight, but Mauricio Rua wants to change that story.
Rua, the former UFC light heavyweight champion and 2005 Pride middleweight GP champion, is looking to revive his good old days against "The American Gangster" on Aug. 17 in the main event of UFC Fight Night 26.
Rua hasn’t showed up in his best form since 2011, when he demolished Forrest Griffin in Brazil and then lost to Dan Henderson in one of the best fights of the year. Rua has alternated wins and losses in his last six fights, but guarantees he’s in shape for next Saturday’s main event.
"I focused on (working on my wrestling), but also on what I have to do to defeat him," Rua told MMAFighting.com. "I studied his game a lot. I got all the coaches from my camp for ‘Minotouro’, except for Jacob Harman. But I have ‘Babalu’ here working on my wrestling. I’m ready for this fight."
Rua was originally scheduled to meet Antonio Rogerio Nogueira at UFC 161, but "Minotouro" pulled out with a back injury. Sonnen offered to replace him and got the opportunity, but the fight was moved to the UFC’s first show on Fox Sports 1.
"It helped me a bit, I had more time to work on his game," Rua said about the fight being postponed. "If I didn’t have this (extra) time I would only have had 10 days until the fight, if he replaced ‘Minotouro’ on July 15. It helped me a little, but I wanted to fight already and I had to wait one more month."
Sonnen has been approved to use testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) for the fight, and Rua says that won’t change the result of the bout.
"I don’t care about that," he said. "I want to fight. With TRT or not, I will get there to do my job and will get the win. I’ve worked a lot on my jiu-jitsu with Roberto Gordo, and I’m ready to face him on the ground. But the fight starts standing, and that’s where I like to fight. I’m going to fight and won’t miss opportunities."
Shogun vs. Sonnen is different than any of Chael’s last fights. A master on the art of talking trash, "The People's Champ" didn’t had one bad thing to say about his next opponent, and that surprised everyone – including Rua.
"(Trash talk) gives me more motivation, but he didn’t say a word about me, and that’s surprising," Rua said. "I always respected my opponents and never got into those talks, so I will respect him as I always did. But I was surprised that he didn’t talk trash about me."
Shogun is the underdog according to the betting lines, but his longtime friend Wanderlei Silva believes he’s not only winning the fight, but forcing Chael to retire.
"It looks like Wanderlei wants to fight Sonnen so bad after me," he said with a laugh. "They talked some trash to each other in the media, but I didn’t pay much of attention to that. I’m focused on my fight. But, if they eventually fight, of course I’ll back Wanderlei."
A win next Saturday puts the Brazilian back in the win column, and he hopes to get another shot to reclaim his title. Alexander Gustafsson, who is the last man to defeat Rua, is the next in line against UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones, and Shogun believes the title won’t change hands.
"Jones wins," he bets, giving his thoughts on what should "The Mauler" do to surprise "Bones". "He has to move and use his reach, which I believe is a bit bigger than Jones’."