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‘Shogun’ Rua talks injury, UFC 198 fight with Corey Anderson: 'Blessing in disguise'

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Mauricio Rua pulled out of an April 16 clash with former UFC champion Rashad Evans due to a knee injury, but is now set to take on rising light heavyweight Corey Anderson on May 14 in his home town of Curitiba, Brazil.

"Shogun", who was announced in a new fight a week after pulling out of UFC on FOX 19, spoke with about his decision of leaving the Tampa card.

"I felt my knee two weeks ago. I thought it was nothing serious, but woke up the next day with a lot of pain and went to the doctor," Rua said. "The doctor said I had inflammation, and since I would need to stop training for a while, the UFC and I decided it would be better to postpone the fight. They had a card in Curitiba planned for a month later, so it ended up being perfect."

Rua will start his camp for Anderson now, but can’t perform at his best just yet.

"I will be cautious in training now because of my knee," he said. "It doesn’t bother me that much, but it’s not 100 percent because of the inflammation. I will loosen up slowly."

Leaving the Tampa card turned out to be a blessing in disguise after he was offered a chance to fight at the 42,000-seat Arena da Baixada soccer stadium in Curitiba, but competing in Brazil at this moment isn’t perfect.

"It was good in a way, but I was moving to California with my family, bringing everything here, so it’s a bit complicated to change plans now," said the Brazilian, who moved to California permanently with his wife and kids to train at Kings MMA. "But we can’t control everything, it’s an injury. It’s a blessing in disguise. It’s hard because we’re moving and everything else, though."

Anderson is not a former champion like his previous opponent, but "Shogun" sees him as a tough competitor. The Brazilian, who holds a 5-2 record when fighting in Brazil (2-2 under the UFC banner), will change a few things in his strategy for UFC 198.

"I don’t think if it’s an easier or tougher fight," "Shogun" said. "The opponent has changed, and my strategy will have to change. I already spoke with master (Rafael Cordeiro) and my team about the opponent. It’s going to be a tough fight, but I will train hard to get the win."

"Corey Anderson has a good cardio, fights in a strategic way, is very effective with his strategy, so he’s a tough opponent," he continued. "He deserves respect. Everybody knows Rashad, but Corey is fighting more often now, has more rhythm. I believe Rashad only fought once since 2013, so that’s a problem for a fighter. Rashad has a good wrestling and boxing, and Corey also likes the ground and pound.

"Corey is a tough opponent and he deserves respect, but I expect to win no matter how."

Coming off a unanimous decision win over Antonio Rogerio Nogueira at UFC 190, when he earned the fight of the night bonus, Rua is confident that he will have the support of the Curitiba fans.

Fighting at the Arena da Baixada, a soccer stadium that belongs to Atletico Paranaense, the MMA legend, who roots for Atletico’s rival Coritiba, is confident that soccer rivalries will be left aside on May 14.

"I love soccer, I always go to the stadium every time I have a chance," "Shogun" said. "Curitiba is not a big city, so everybody knows I root for Coritiba, but they have always respected me because I don’t mix soccer with MMA. I always had the support of Atletico-PR and Parana fans, and also Coritiba fans.

"Curitiba will be the biggest UFC event in Brazil, and one of the biggest ever, and I’m glad to be part of this card. Curitiba deserved a hometown guy in this event. Curitiba always had great talents in MMA, and I’m happy to be fighting there. It’s an extra motivation."

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