I’ve said my piece on Chuck Liddell and Anderson Silva in the wake of UFC 97, but have yet to discuss the counterpart in Saturday nights co-main event who absolutely deserves a mention. That person is Mauricio “Shogun” Rua, the man who literally knocked Chuck Liddell into retirement at the Bell Centre last weekend.
Some folk, not all, but some have already jumped back on the Shogun train now that the former PRIDE terror has shown a flash of his former self. While Rua deserves all the credit in the world for his TKO victory, I can hardly concede at this time that the man is officially “back”. Maybe its just me, but I find it difficult to shake the awful memory of UFC 93 (Rua vs. Coleman II) that easily.
Had Shogun maintained a solid pace for at least another round in his featured bout with Liddell, I’d be more inclined to declare that the Mauricio of old had indeed returned. But four and a half minutes is just not sufficient in terms of testing an elite fighters cardio- which has been a key concern with Rua since he began competing under the Zuffa banner in September of 2007.
Additionally, Shogun still has some adjustments to make if he is to truly flourish and climb the UFC’s ranks, and it will surely not be easy given the sharks waiting in the incredibly stacked 205lb division. Will he be able to dominate the best that the UFC has to offer without a ring, stomps, knees to the head, soccer kicks, and even though no one likes to mention it, regular drug tests? Will his nagging knee injury come back to haunt him? Some of these questions have at least been partially answered, others remain to be seen.
Suffice to say if the Shogun who wreaked havoc on the Japanese circuit really does come back to town- the light-heavyweight order is in for some serious shaking up. And if Rua can knock off another top ten opponent then perhaps the bandwagon will be justified, but it is simply too early to tell. We shall see…