Mauricio “Shogun” Rua recently rebounded from a title-relinquishing loss to current champion Jon Jones by knocking out his fellow former champ Forrest Griffin in the first round of their UFC 134 meeting this summer. The 29-year-old Brazilian will look to keep his momentum rolling when he meets Dan Henderson this weekend, but he won’t be thinking about getting his belt back, or anything else other than Hendo himself.
“Henderson is a guy with great history in the sport, he’s a big fight for me. My main goal is to win the belt back, but you have to focus yourself on someone like Dan Henderson 100 percent when you fight him,” said Shogun. “So I am not thinking about the belt right now other than I need to win this fight to get to the belt.”
Henderson and Shogun were both mainstays of the Pride Fighting Championships and were top competitors in the same division. A bout between the two was close to materializing on more than one occasion during their simultaneous Pride run, but always ended up falling through. Luckily, both men have remained near the top of their division over the years and will finally meet to do battle; Shogun is elated to to square off with the MMA legend, as it was a fight he always wished would have happened.
“This is a marquee fight for me – a very important fight. Dan Henderson is a legend in MMA, he was a two-weight champion of Pride, and a champion of Strikeforce. He’s a guy with a big history in the sport and this fight means a lot to me,” he said. “I came very close to fighting Henderson in Pride, on two occasions. But these fights never happened. This is a great fight. It could have been a huge fight in Pride in 2006, and it is a huge fight in the UFC now.”
UFC 139: Shogun vs. Henderson goes down this Saturday, November 19, from the HP Pavilion in San Jose, California. FightLine will be back on the night with live, ongoing coverage of the fights, as always.