All throughout the UFC Fight Night 106 co-main event between the legendary Mauricio “Shogun” Rua and Gian Villante, the specter of an imminent knockout lingered.
For the better part of two-plus rounds, the lumbering light heavyweights traded brutal shots in a manner that suggested the fight wasn’t going to go the distance.
Eventually, though, one of the sport’s most beloved fighters put on a vintage finish. Fighting in his homeland of Brazil, the former UFC light heavyweight champion and PRIDE Grand Prix tourney winner added another finish to his record, scoring the TKO at 0:59 of round three.
“You know I think every fight is a dream,” Rua (25-10) said after his 20th career KO/TKO finish. “I had a lot of dreams in my career, and I’m glad I can keep coming out and doing this.”
It didn’t look good in the early going for Shogun, who was rocked and wobbly after a big Villante shot. The veteran Rua managed to clinch long enough to clear the cobwebs and scamper to safety, and the brawl was on.
Rua likely won both of the first two rounds, and he landed more often. But when Villante landed, he landed with authority, to which Rua’s swollen right eye attested.
In the third, though, Rua wore Villante down and finished like a prime “Shogun.” He peppered Villante with shots to the head and body, and used a head kick to set up the finishing flurry before referee Mario Yamasaki waved things off.
“Gian is a very tough guy, we put on a very good striking match,” said Rua.
Rua, who at couple years back had dropped four fights in five, has now won three in a row. Villante (15-8) has lost two of his past three.