Shogun, who faces Potieria on the UFC 283 preliminary card, has beaten the best of the best in the light heavyweight division for over a decade. He reached the pinnacle of his career by winning the iconic 2005 PRIDE grand prix in Japan, one of the most stacked tournaments of all-time in MMA, and years later he resurged to become UFC champion.
As he prepares to leave the sport for good, many of Brazil’s best fighters paid tribute to a legend that will never be forgotten. MMA Fighting spoke with former champions, teammates, and MMA stars who looked back at Rua’s greatest moments and wished him happy trails as he lays down his gloves.
Wanderlei Silva, former training partner and PRIDE champion: “It’s very easy to talk about my brother Mauricio Shogun. I’ve watched his career since the beginning in the gym. An incredible fighter, one of the best fighters I’ve seen train and fight. His legacy will last forever. He definitely represented Brazil well. He undoubtedly is one of the bravest and skilled [fighters] I’ve ever seen.
“The moment that stands out for me, among all the great ones, was when he won the GP against [Ricardo] Arona in Japan, and one of the greatest fights in MMA history against [Antonio Rogerio Nogueira] ‘Minotouro.’ I’m proud to have trained with and watched many of his fights live. Congratulations brother, what a beautiful career you have.”
Rudimar Fedrigo, Chute Boxe founder: “Shogun is one of the best fighters Chute Boxe has ever produced, no doubt about it. One of his main accomplishments was winning the PRIDE Grand Prix in Japan. A tournament with the best [light heavyweights] on the planet and he became champion, so Shogun has definitely written his name in the history of the sport.”
Anderson Silva, former UFC middleweight champion: “Shogun is a great champion, a true samurai.”
Jose Aldo, former UFC and WEC featherweight champion: “Shogun leaves a gigantic legacy in the sport. He’s from a previous generation, and I could watch him become champion in the PRIDE grand prix against Arona in the final, and then get to the UFC and stumble in the beginning, but become champion by beating Lyoto [Machida]. Shogun’s legacy is gigantic, a great athlete that we have and will retire after UFC Rio. I wish him luck in his future endeavors after the fight.”
Rafael Cordeiro, Rua’s former coach: “Shogun leaves a legacy for every generation of fighters in this sport, the ones from the past and the ones yet to come, that discipline and will can take you far. He’s still one of the old-school guys, still competing and showing the kids that life is easier when you know what you were born to do. His career was brilliant, and he’s always made us proud.
“He has elevated the name of the [Chute Boxe] team and my name wherever he went, and it’s always a pleasure to watch Shogun fight. He will definitely be missed in the sport, but know his name won’t be forgotten. When you talk about MMA and vale tudo, you can’t keep his name out of the same sentence. I love you, champ.”
Murilo Rua, former PRIDE fighter (and Shogun’s older brother): “My brother’s legacy is that he became champion in the world’s two biggest organizations, UFC and PRIDE. No one has ever done that. Congratulations to him, and I wish him success in the future.”
Deiveson Figueiredo, UFC flyweight champion: “I’ve always followed Shogun my entire life since I was a kid, back in the PRIDE days. Shogun and his brother [Murilo Rua] always put on a show. If I’m a fighter, it’s because they motivated me a lot.
“Shogun leaves a massive legacy. He’s incentivized a lot of kids, and still does. It’s sad, but it’s the end. One day it will be me, it will be my time to retire, but I want to thank him for everything he’s done for the sport. If I’m a fighter now, it’s through him.”
Renato Moicano, UFC lightweight: “Shogun is a legend. To me, his greatest moment was becoming champion in PRIDE and UFC, and the fight against Kevin Randleman, when he went for a kneebar from half guard, which wasn’t common at the time. I wish him luck in retirement. He’s a huge legend that has inspired many Brazilians.”
Raphael Assuncao, UFC bantamweight: “Everybody knows Shogun is a legend of the sport and what he has done all these years in PRIDE and UFC. One day he came to Atlanta with his team to teach a seminar, right after he won the PRIDE grand prix, and I looked up at him. My eyes lit up looking at him, since he’s a bit older than me. I’m a big Shogun fan to this day. I had the opportunity to chat with him, we even fought on the same card a few times, so I have great memories with him. Huge legend of the sport.”
Gleison Tibau, PFL welterweight: “It’s gratifying to talk about Shogun for everything he’s done for the sport. His beautiful history in PRIDE, so young but putting on a show against veterans in PRIDE. He gave us joy with so many great moments in PRIDE. It was exciting to watch him in PRIDE and then in the UFC, becoming champion. He’ll never be forgotten.”
Elizeu Zaleski, UFC welterweight and former training partner: “Shogun was and continues to be an idol I have. I was always motivated by his fights, since PRIDE days. I’ve always loved his style, and the fact he’s also from Paraná meant something for me. I had the honor of training with him for some time at CM System and be friends with him. He’s a fantastic person. …. One of the moments that stand out the most to me was his second fight with Lyoto, when he won the belt. Lyoto’s hype was through the roof with the way he was devastating everybody, and [Rua] was able to break that and become champion. I’m happy for everything Shogun has done for the sport and what he will do outside the cage.”
Rafael Cavalcante, former Strikeforce champion: “His aggressiveness in PRIDE was what has always impressed me, his kicks and stomps, knocking out out everybody and winning the PRIDE GP against super tough opponents. That has been in my memory ever since. He’s a warrior, and will masterfully lay his gloves inside the cage.”
Marcos Rogerio de Lima, UFC heavyweight: “I had the pleasure to help him in a few camps and exchange a few punches. He’s such a nice guy. He was entering the UFC when I started fighting MMA so I watched many of his fights. Three epic moments in his career were the first two Minotouro fights, and when he became champion in PRIDE. That was breathtaking. So many ethereal moments in MMA history. I wish him all the best.”
Jennifer Maia, UFC flyweight and Chute Boxe fighter: “I was starting in the sport when he won the PRIDE GP and would stay up all night to watch PRIDE. His legacy is doing what [none] could, being champion in PRIDE and UFC and writing his name in MMA history.”
Vicente Luque, UFC welterweight: “He’s always been an inspiration for me because I also come from Muay Thai and have watched him since the beginning. I remember watching his fights at MECA and then PRIDE, and then in the UFC. His style inspired so many, including me, because he was a finisher, such a well-rounded action fighter.
“To me, his most memorable fight was the Dan Henderson fight. Both were great, but the first one was even more special. He represented Brazil so well and became one of the greatest in the MMA world. Few people did what he did in Japan. PRIDE was a historic promotion and those who became champion there have something else, and what he still did afterward, he’s undoubtedly one of the all-time greatest.”
In a universe where fighters carry names and nicknames, one word was always enough for “Shogun.” For the last 21 years, regardless of countries or language barriers, those six letters immediately brought to mind the picture of a champion.
Rua ran through killers of the sport in a time where light heavyweights were at their peak in Japan. Knees, stomps, and vicious soccer kicks, violent attacks thrown in such effortless manner — Shogun made it all look way too simple and way too easy.
We’ll fondly miss the glorious times of the man who inspired those who came after. Shogun retires to enter the pantheon of the MMA gods.