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‘Shogun' Rua still has title aspirations, but says he’s not ‘hypocrite’ enough to presume he’s next in line

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MMA: UFC Fight Night-Rua vs Villante Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports

FORTALEZA, Brazil — Mauricio Rua has now won three straight fights for the first time since signing with the UFC in 2007, and says the key to knocking out Gian Villante in the co-main event of UFC Fight Night 106 in Fortaleza, Brazil, on Saturday night, was patience.

“Shogun" and Villante traded heavy punches and hurt each other in the opening round, but the Brazilian didn’t rush for the finish when his opponent got rocked the first time.

"I always try to evolve as an athlete, the cardio and technique, and I ask God a lot before the fight to be patient,” Rua said at the post-fight press conference. "The calmer I am, the better I fight. Sometimes you’re too nervous you use your strength more than you need."

Rua, a long-time veteran in the sport, admitted that he gets nervous before MMA fights.

"I don't get too tired in the gym as I do in the fight,” he said. "The fight is different, so you have to concentrate and imagine it’s a training because the anxiety can take control of you. If you think how big the event is, that’s against you. You have to concentrate and be calm and patient.

"We want to win as soon as possible to guarantee the victory and I saw that he felt my hand a few times, but he recovered fast, so I didn’t open myself. The last knockdown, I felt he was hurt and knew if I went forward the referee would stop because he was worse than before."

Rua didn’t specifically call anyone out after winning his third straight in the Octagon, but plans on staying more active and competing once or twice more in 2017.

"I fight the best since 2005 and I never picked opponents, and the UFC knows that,” Rua said. “I leave these things in my manager’s hands, Eduardo [Alonso]. He takes care of this. I pay him for that, so he takes care of this. And I pay him really well, actually [laughs]. My job is to train and fight."

A former 205-pound champion in UFC and PRIDE, “Shogun" wants to recapture the light heavyweight championship, but knows he’s not in the position to ask for a title shot just yet.

"It was my 35th fight. I face every fight as a dream,” Rua said. "The UFC is the World Cup of MMA and the best fighters are in the UFC, so every fight is a war. Every fight is a dream come true for me. Every fight gets me closer to the belt. My biggest dream is the belt. I’ve accomplished my mission now, so it’s time to come back home and rest.

"I would be an hypocrite if I said I’ll be next [in line]. For sure, it has to be the winner of Glover [Teixeira] and [Alexander] Gustafsson. They are ahead of me, and the winner deserves to fight for the belt."