Shogun Rua: Looking Ahead
When Zuffa purchased Pride back in 2007, the debate over which organization had the better fighters was to be settled. It was hoped that having every top guy under one roof would answer the question over which organization was the greatest. However, it wasn’t a smooth transition as names like Mirko Cro Cop, Wanderlei Silva, and Shogun Rua all began to lose in the US. Rua faced the harshest criticism when he dropped his 2007 UFC debut to Ultimate Fighter winner Forrest Griffin—American fans were scathing over what they felt was a great disparity between talent. Even when Rua routed Chuck Liddell in one round at UFC 97, it was easier to discredit Liddell because of his losing streak and decreased punch resistance than it was to credit Rua. But now, after a demolition job on Lyoto Machida at UFC 113, the dust has finally settled.
“I’m very happy, because this fight is my dream,” explained Rua while visiting Ontario in the days following the bout, “Winning this belt is my dream.”
Asked what he changed for this camp, Rua stated that he trained more for leg kicks in the first fight, and adjusted his strategy to use boxing in the rematch. His tactics yielded a first round stoppage when he was able to connect with a right-hook to Lyoto’s temple, knocking him down and then finished him off with strikes from the mount in the first round.
Said Andre “Dida” Amado, Shogun’s Muay Thai coach, “I felt the fight went perfectly. We’ve been working eight long months on this, and it couldn’t have gone any better.”
A bout with appendicitis could have been fatal for any other fighter’s performance. Dida explained that when the illness occurred, Shogun had already been training hard for six months, so he wasn’t affected by the short rest he took to recover from surgery two months before UFC 113.
This was a victory that could not be subject to the disapproval of judges or other critics. With the win, Shogun becomes the second former Pride champion to hold a UFC belt after Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira won the intermin heavyweight title in 2008.
Looking ahead to his first defense of the title, he’s open to all comers, “I’m happy to face the winner of Rashad vs. Rampage or Randy Couture. I have no preference of opponent.”
As always, Rua takes the time to mention the support that makes his victories possible:
“Thank you to my sponsors Bad Boy, and thank you to my fans. I am very happy when people ask ‘Hey Shogun, take pictures with us!’, this is my job. And thank you for one more chance at the belt.”
Perhaps there is no static answer to the question of which organization was better between the UFC and Pride. The answer to the question of who is the best 205er in the world can be definitively answered—he’s the Brazilian who is constantly smiling through the pain of repeated knee surgeries, criticism over the Mark Coleman fight, and a controversial first fight with Machida—the answer is UFC champion Shogun Rua.