It was certainly a surprise to see Mauricio “Shogun” Rua being forced into submission by Chael Sonnen in Round 1 of their light heavyweight main event at UFC Fight Night 26 on Fox Sports 1. It wasn’t a surprise to see Sonnen emerge with the victory; odds makers had set a close betting line, but most believed if the “American Gangster” was going to enjoy success, it would be through a grinding five-round decision.
With the loss, many are painting Rua in the category of an MMA legend whose body simply isn’t responding the way it used to because of all the wear and tear associated with all the cage wars and injury issues along the way.
He’s been around for so long that it’s hard to believe Rua is just 31. However, he’s about 40 in fighter years due to the physical toll. He simply hasn’t looked like himself in back to back losses against Sonnen and Alexander Gustafsson, and even had some rocky moments before finally securing a victory against Brandon Vera. That was his last victory.
One thing that was a bit of head-scratcher in advance of the Sonnen bout was the sight of Rua working on his boxing skills with legendary trainer Freddie Roach. Rua’s striking has never been in question, but to work on the striking game in advance of a fight against one of the best wrestlers in the UFC didn’t appear to make much sense.
Avoiding take downs and working extensively on his wrestling game might have been more beneficial. As we know, it’s always easier to second-guess after the fact.
What we do know is Rua is running out of options to try and revive his UFC career. The one that immediately comes to mind for me is a rematch against fellow MMA legend Dan Henderson.
First off, I’m fully aware that given the drop-off in performance for both of late, it would be near impossible to duplicate their epic matchup at UFC 139. It was one of the best fights in the organization’s history, and the punishment doled out by both men in that five-round war has left both a shell of their former selves.
The soon-to-be 43-year old Henderson is coming off back-to-back losses against Lyoto Machida and Rashad Evans. In both of those bouts, “Hendo” seemed a little hesitant in pulling the trigger, and his accuracy was left wanting. Neither battle was particularly memorable.
Both Henderson and Rua have had injury issues to deal with since their first encounter that was the 2011 Fight of the Year, but with both in need of a victory and both nearing the end of their careers, doing the rematch would seem to make sense.
Neither is ever going to be in the title hunt again in the 205-pound weight class, so having both true MMA warriors tangle again just might bring out the best in one another.
Rick LaFitte is an MMA Writer for Rant Sports