The past 15 months have been one of the toughest spans in Mauricio “Shogun” Rua’s young career. Since the Brazilian lost in his Octagon debut to Forrest Griffin, he has been recovering from a second knee surgery, watching the UFC light heavyweight title switching hands as if it were a beat-up pair of boxing gloves. For Shogun, the road to redemption starts against a familiar opponent at UFC 93.
“I think he is a great fighter, a legend,” said Shogun of Mark Coleman. “He is a great wrestler but I think I’m better at jiu-jitsu and striking. Plus, I have better cardio. I think it’s a good match up for me in theory.”
Shogun still has the bitter taste of defeat lingering in his mouth from their meeting nearly two years ago. During their PrideFC bout, Coleman attempted to take the Brazilian to the ground, however as Shogun planted his right arm on the mat to brace his fall, he dislocated his elbow and the fight was stopped immediately.
If nothing else, that fight taught the talented 27-year-old to be prepared for anything.
“You never really know what can happen in a fight and I respect Coleman but obviously I have to be confident,” explained Rua. “I see the fight ending with a submission from the bottom, or a knockout standing up.”
Although he knows that only Brock Lesnar is allowed to get a title shot after posting a 1-1 Octagon record, he realizes that he has to keep stockpiling quality wins like he did in years past to get a shot at the belt.
However, don’t expect him to want to sit waiting for too long, especially since there hasn’t been a clear-cut dominant force in the division since Chuck Liddell’s run two years ago.
“I think the goal of every fighter is to become champion,” stated Shogun. “To be the best at what you do and to be the best right now, you have to be the UFC champion. The UFC is running great shows and to become the champion would be a great feeling but I have to take things step by step and right now all I’m thinking about is Mark Coleman.”
Once rated as the top light heavyweight in the world, Shogun will look to prove to all of his fans, but particularly to the naysayers, that he is back, healthy and better than ever.
“I treasure my fans,” explained Rua. “Every time I fight I try to give my best and make an exciting fight for all of them. They can be sure that there will be many more exciting fights from me in the future and that I will be training hard to show that I’m still the same fighter I was in the past. I’m always trying to improve.”