Mauricio “Shogun” Rua won’t be returning to The Land of the Rising Sun after all.
The former UFC light heavyweight champion was scheduled to fight Ovince Saint Preux (20-10) in the main event of UFC Saitama at Japan’s Saitama Super Arena on Sept. 23, but he has been forced to withdraw with a knee injury and he will be replaced by one-time middleweight title challenger Yushin Okami (34-10)
Rua’s withdrawal was first reported by The MMA Kings, and the new matchup was confirmed on Saturday’s UFC Pittsburgh broadcast.
The misfortune comes at a particularly bad time for the 35-year-old Rua given that he is in the midst of a late-career resurgence. Following a 1-4 stretch, Rua has won his last three fights, including a third-round TKO victory over Gian Villante in March.
Prior to joining the UFC, Rua emerged as a legend in Japan’s PRIDE promotion and next Saturday’s match with “OSP” would have marked Rua’s first fight in the country in almost 11 years.
Instead, Okami will make his return to the Octagon after being released by the promotion in September 2013. The Kanagawa native has won his last four bouts and five of his last seven, which includes a run with the World Series of Fighting promotion (now known as the Professional Fighters League).