A bit melodramatic of a question to ask if PRIDE veteran and all-around-slobberknocker king Mauricio “Shogun” Rua would rather get knocked out cold in the cage than retire, but it seems as if PRIDE’s legendary Light Heavyweight has no appetite for quitting any time soon. Since he appears unable to make that decision on his own, somebody will have to step in and make that call sooner rather than later.
We all saw his performance last August in Boston against Chael Sonnen. Sonnen, who got torched by Rashad Evans in mid-November, made fast work of Shogun in embarrassing fashion. So bad in fact that Dana White claimed that he would have “the talk” with Shogun about retiring if he had lost to James Te Huna at the UFC Fight Night 33 event in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.
Lucky for Shogun, he met an opponent who decided that the best defense was keeping his hands to his side. The “no guard” defense as K-1 used to phrase it on their Fuji TV broadcasts. Mark Hunt might be able to get away with it because he has a head made of granite but James Te Huna does not. Te Hunt walked towards Shogun with a no-guard posture and went for an uppercut. Shogun countered with a left punch that immediately floored Te Huna right before a power right missed. Te Huna was finished at that point and Shogun went for a big hammer punch on the ground because the referee didn’t stop it in time. Everyone cage side knew that Shogun had gotten his KO and scrambled before Shogun connected with the hammer.
In a world of fairy tales, Shogun would have announced his retirement on the spot and thanked the lovely Brisbane fans who were delightfully supportive and vocal. Instead, onwards and upwards for Shogun which probably means he’ll fight five more times before being told to stop fighting for his own good.
The prospects of Shogun vs. Dan Henderson in another bout, this time at Middleweight (185 pounds) instead of Light Heavyweight (205 pounds) appears to be on the table. Neither guy should be put in that position but they likely will be because they can’t stop fighting. It’s not in their DNA. What made them champions also makes their exits from the sport that much more painful. Dan Henderson claims he’s negotiating a new contract with the UFC. If the UFC decided on valor being the better part of discretion, they would let Henderson go and fight in Bellator where he would likely be overpaid for his services. Instead, if the UFC signs Henderson to a new deal they will try to get him some mid-level fights including the re-match with Shogun. The punishment those two dishes out against each other in San Jose was brutal. Given that Shogun doesn’t have his knees and Henderson is a testosterone user, somebody is going to get hurt badly.
Brazilian MMA writer & photographer Guilherme Cruz noted this before the Te Huna fight:
I heard Shogun was in terrible shape before starting his camp in Sao Paulo. And when I mean terrible shape, I mean TERRIBLE. We’ll see.
And after Shogun’s win, he appropriately quipped:
The biggest problem with Shogun is that we need to say “Shogun is back” all the time.
Blame the promoters, not the fighter for wanting to continue. The adults who call themselves the regulators are supposed to make the call on when to stop someone from getting themselves killed. The problem is that the regulators are often the worst enablers.