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The Curious Case of Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua

UFC Ultimate Fight Night 33’s Mauricio Rua has had a hell of a career.

In 2005, ‘Shogun’ went on one of the greatest runs in MMA history.  He defeated four top contenders in one year to be crowned the Pride middleweight champion.  He soccer kicked his way past former Pride title challenger Quinton Jackson, defeated Antonio Rogerio Nogueira in a fight of the year performance, submitted Alistair Overeem, and knocked out Ricardo Arona in the finals with a brutal stomp and hammerfists.

Unfortunately for Rua, he would never win the ‘official’ Pride middleweight title.  Going to show that teammates refusing to fight each other isn’t a modern MMA problem, it wasn’t seen as feasible that he would fight teammate Wanderlei Silva for the title.  No matter for fans though, as many considered him to be the true best light heavyweight in Pride, with only the UFC’s Chuck Liddell arguably holding the #1 rank ahead of him.

A fluke loss to Coleman would do little to shake perception of Shogun’s superiority, but his 2007 loss to Forrest Griffin in the UFC did.  In what was one of the most shocking upsets in UFC history, the TUF’er somehow beat the Pride legend.  Thankfully for Rua, this would be the beginning of a new chapter.

Shogun would go on to win the rematch against Mark Coleman at UFC 93, albeit in less than impressive fashion.  However an upset win over Chuck Liddell would propel him into a dubious title shot.

From there, Shogun shocked the world with a competitive and controversial decision loss to Lyoto Machida, and knocked him out in their rematch.  The Pride legend was back on top, and hoped to stay there for a long time.

And then it went downhill.

Shogun would be dominated in his first title defense to now light heavyweight kingpin Jon Jones, falling victim to a barrage of strikes.  And while he would knock out Griffin in their rematch, losses to Dan Henderson and Alexander Gustafsson set him back.

In one view, Shogun looked decent in those fights.  He endured an incredible beating from Henderson before mounting a comeback, and looked surprisingly competitive against Gustafsson – the #2 light heavyweight in the world.  But it was Shogun’s last fight, against Chael Sonnen, where he’s truly looked like a shell of himself.

Shogun scored an early takedown, but was quickly reversed.  The American wrestler put Shogun on his back, where the Brazilian was helpless against Sonnen’s ground and pound.  When Shogun attempted to reverse, he found himself wound up in Sonnen’s guillotine, and suffered his first consecutive loss in his career, and second submission loss in the UFC.

Now fighting James Te Huna at UFC Fight Night 33, questions have to be asked how much Shogun has left.  The beating against Henderson can’t be good for his longevity, and losing to Sonnen in the manner that he did does not speak well.

Theoretically, a drop to middleweight could reinvent his career, but with a knockout loss on Friday, the former #1 ranked light heavyweight should seriously consider retiring before he ends up like his brother.