Some critics have already written “Shogun” Rua off, in terms of whether the veteran remains an elite fighter, and it will be interesting to see how the 31 year-old looks when he battles Chael Sonnen at UFC Fight Night 26. The former light-heavyweight champ has never lost two bouts in a row during his accomplished career, and after losing by unanimous decision to Alexander Gustafsson last December, Rua is in need of a win.
Although most fans and pundits would agree Sonnen is more of a threat when he’s fighting at middleweight, his wrestling game could pose serious difficulties for Rua on Saturday night. “Shogun” has battled experienced wrestlers before, but its clear the feared striker is taking Sonnen’s grappling skills very seriously. The PRIDE vet recently told MMA Fighting.com:
“I focused on (working on my wrestling), but also on what I have to do to defeat him,” said Rua. “I studied his game a lot. I got all the coaches from my camp for ‘Minotouro’, except for Jacob Harman. But I have ‘Babalu’ here working on my wrestling. I’m ready for this fight.”
In addition to Sonnen’s wrestling game, Rua has also fielded questions about the fighter’s use of testosterone-replacement-therapy, but the Brazilian star apparently isn’t worried about the hot button issue.
“I don’t care about that,” he said. “I want to fight. With TRT or not, I will get there to do my job and will get the win. I’ve worked a lot on my jiu-jitsu with Roberto Gordo, and I’m ready to face him on the ground. But the fight starts standing, and that’s where I like to fight. I’m going to fight and won’t miss opportunities.”
It’s going to be fascinating to see if Sonnen can keep “Shogun” on the mat, and if not, how Rua’s boxing looks considering the time he recently spent with Freddie Roach.
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