Despite being the UFC light heavyweight champion, Mauricio “Shogun” Rua finds himself as an underdog heading into UFC 128 in March. Shogun will be challenged by fast-rising light heavyweight Jon “Bones” Jones, who is replacing Rashad Evans in the main event, who had to withdraw due to injury.
Eager to defend his crown for the first time, Rua sees similarities in Evans and Jones, who are training partners. Given Jones’ strong wrestling background and unorthodox striking, the 29-year-old champion plans on making a few adjustments, but overall, anticipates a similar fight.
“I’ve been training hard for a fight on this date and I was prepared to fight Rashad,” said Rua, who is a +180 underdog. “I face this new challenge as motivation to train even harder. I’m a fighter and I don’t pick opponents. I’ll be ready for Jon Jones.”
Rua’s former coach at Chute Boxe, Cristiano Marcello, won the Nitrix Lightweight Championship last weekend after defeating Oriol Gaset. Marcello spoke to FightLine.com about Rua’s upcoming defense and had some advice for his former pupil.
“Put it on the ground and submit him,” Marcello told FightLine.com, when asked what Rua needed to do to defeat Jones. “It’s not gonna be easy, but I think his ground game is better than Jon Jones.
“I never saw Jones with his back on the ground, his background is in wrestling,” he continued. “You see how good a guy in BJJ is when his back is on the ground. Can he sweep, can he submit? We’ll see.”
UFC 128: Shogun vs. Jones takes place on March 19, 2011 from the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey.