Mauricio Rua has long been one of my favorite fighters. He’s always hunting for the finish, whether he’s ahead on the scorecards, hurt, exhausted, or some combination of the three. "Shogun" is pure, unadulterated violence.
The Brazilian’s list of accomplishments is pretty long: former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion, 2005 Pride Middleweight Grand Prix Champion, multiple time FOTN/KOTN winner, Sherdog 2005 Fighter of the Year, World MMA Awards 2011 Fight of the Year, the list goes on. He’s a legend, through and through. Perhaps the most impressive thing of all, though, is his longevity.
When UFC Welterweight Champion Georges St. Pierre blew out his ACL in 2011, people wondered if he would come back the same athlete, the same fighter. Some people wondered if he would come back at all. That was after one trip under the knife. "Shogun" has had three, and he’s still here.
And that’s not all. Besides multiple knee injuries, Rua has taken some serious damage throughout his 11-year career. He broke his arm against Mark Coleman at Pride 31. He was battered from pillar to post against Jon Jones for the title at UFC 128. At UFC 139, Dan Henderson battered him to the limits of his consciousness repeatedly. Alexander Gustafsson dropped him. Brandon Vera staggered him. Not mention all those years at Chute Box. After all that, and the injuries, he’s still in his division’s top 10. That’s pretty incredible.
It hasn’t been an easy road though. In his athletic prime in 2005, "Shogun" was a Muay Thai tornado, using spinning kicks, jumping knees, and a devastating clinch game to capture the Pride Middleweight Grand Prix. Now, because of the decreased dexterity in his knees, he’s had to revamp his style and focus more on boxing and wrestling. He’s spent time training with Freddie Roach to sharpen his already dangerous hands, and employed a takedown-heavy strategy against Henderson and Gustafsson.
Rua’s in-ring toughness clearly translates outside of the cage, but he’s shown that he’s adaptable as well. The cards that he’s been dealt throughout his career would cripple many fighters, but "Shogun" won’t give up. Maybe he’s just that tough. Maybe he’s just that stubborn. Either way, he’s not going anywhere yet.