The last time we saw Mauricio "Shogun" Rua, he dominated Mark Coleman in the early going of their fight at UFC 93, only to run out of gas and struggle mightily to put Coleman away. That left a lot of viewers thinking Rua wasn't in good enough shape, and on a call Tuesday to promote his UFC 97 fight with Chuck Liddell, Rua confessed that he wasn't.
"When I fought Coleman, like it or not I stayed almost a year and a half on the sidelines and that took a lot out of my training and conditioning," Rua said Tuesday. "I can say that right now I'm feeling much more prepared physically and psychologically for this fight against Chuck."
Part of his superior preparation, Rua said, has been moving his training camp away from home, and spending a full camp doing nothing but focusing on his next fight.
"For sure it helped, it was a new experience for me," Rua said of immersing himself in his training. "It helped me mainly because of focus. Sometimes when we're at home we get a little distracted and don't push ourselves to the limit. So I think moving to a new place to train got me 100% focused on the fight and I can tell that I feel much more prepared and in condition for this fight."
Rua had a long and successful MMA career in Japan, where he went 12-1 fighting in Pride. But after signing with the UFC he suffered a series of knee injuries that kept him out for all of 2008, and because of that, fans often forget that he's only 27 years old. If Rua really is prepared and in condition, he could be a force in the light heavyweight division again. But if he's not in shape, Liddell will make him pay for it.