It was only due to a knee injury induced layoff that Mauricio “Shogun” Rua was able to savor his title-capturing victory over Lyoto Machida for any significant amount of time. In his first title defense, which came at UFC 128 this past March, Rua took on dynamic wunderkind Jon Jones and was thoroughly decimated en route to a third round TKO stoppage.
The defeat marked the first time that Rua had been finished with strikes and it put a quick end to his UFC title run. Currently, he’s scheduled to get back on the horse against Forrest Griffin — who beat him in his UFC debut in 2007 — later this month at UFC 134. To prepare for Griffin, Rua had to analyze the mistakes he made against Jones and in a running blog he writes for ESPN.com, the respected Brazilian fighter broke them all down.
“Really, in the Jones fight, what happened was I got hurt early on and I was having some trouble finding the right distance in the fight,” said the oft-injured 29-year-old. “I was also getting tired, and throwing leg kicks spends a lot of energy which is why I didn’t throw so many of them, and there was also the risk of being taken down; it was a combination of factors which stopped me from performing at my best. But whatever I did wrong in training for that fight, it doesn’t take Jones’ merits away and he was the better fighter that night.”
Rua has been plagued by knee injuries throughout the most recent stage of his career and the effects on his training have been noticeable in some of his fights. The Pride 2005 Middleweight Grand Prix winner explained that, despite some speculation to the contrary, his knees were fine on fight night and that Jones won by virtue of simply being the better man at the time.
“Some people think I was out of shape and are worried about my knees still being hurt after I had so much trouble with them,” said Shogun. “That isn’t the case — there’s nothing wrong with my knees, and they were 100 percent ready for that fight, as it was all cleared by the doctor. We made the biggest effort in doing my rehab as perfectly as possible and the UFC was kind enough to let me come back on a date that was proper to do it, according to the doctors. I have no injury excuses.”
Rua and Griffin will meet in the co-main event of UFC 134: Silva vs. Okami this August 27 at the HSBC Arena in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The event will mark the first time since 1998 that the UFC has returned to Brazil to put on an event and the first time since 2003 that Rua has competed in his home country.