While there have been grumblings that the UFC may opt to manufacture an interim light heavyweight title while the champ recovers from his third knee surgery, Mauricio “Shogun” Rua could care less because he knows that belt is fugazy.
“Man, I don’t know. Last week I had a meeting with them – [UFC president] Dana White and [co-owner Lorenzo Fertitta] – and nobody said anything about an interim title or anything like that. So, I’ll fight with my usual belt on my next bout,” Shogun matter-of-factly told Tatame.com.
If you’re wondering where this interim scenario came from, you can credit Lyoto Machida’s longtime manager Ed Soares. He has been pushing hard for a Machida vs. Rashad Evans rematch, which would mark his client’s fourth consecutive championship bout.
“Well, I don’t know any of it. As far as I’m concerned, it won’t happen,” Shogun continued. “I believe [Soares is] trying it on the behalf of his athlete, but for what I know I’ll fight with my belt in hand.
“That’s the only thing I’m positive about. It’s Lyoto’s interest. [However, just] because you wish it, it doesn’t mean you’ll have it. But for me, it doesn’t change a thing. My belt is official and if they want to fight for an interim belt before, it doesn’t change a thing for me.”
Although early reports indicated a late March return, Rua has his sights set on the beginning of the year.
“It’s everything fine now. I had the surgery a month ago, and I’m cool. I can walk already,” Shogun stated. “I’m doing fitness work and physiotherapy and, next month, I’ll be back to my training and I’ll strengthen my leg so I can come back next year.
“Probably in January, if everything works out fine.”