If you’re a long time MMA fan, then it may seem like “Shogun” Rua should be hitting 40 any day now, since he made his PRIDE debut way back in 2003. The reality is, of course, that Rua has yet to turn 33, as he gets set to fight Ovince St. Preux on Saturday night.

Of course, not only did Rua score a ton of memorable wins during the golden years of PRIDE, but after moving over to the UFC in 2007, he went on to become light-heavyweight champ. As  a result, not only does “Shogun” have a ridiculously large fanbase, a lot of fighters looked up to the Brazilian star when they were entering the sport. Fighters who have since graduated to the UFC and now have Rua in their sites…

Recently the veteran fighter spoke to UFC.com about this Saturday’s fight, and while discussing his beloved status with many fighters, Rua noted:

“I appreciate this a lot, and it’s funny because I’m still young or at least I think of myself as still a young guy (Laughs) and this is now happening often as when I fight on November 8th it’ll be exactly my 12th year anniversary as a pro MMA fighter,” he said. “I didn’t even notice that until a fan told me, so I guess I’m not as young anymore or at least I started very young (Laughs). I really appreciate fighters looking up to me, and I remember the same thing happened when I was fighting James Te Huna. But this is all cool for after the fight, as I know when the fight starts they also see it as a great opportunity for their careers and they will do everything they can to beat me. So right now, we are fighters who will fight each other, and that’s the reality.”

Yes. The competition may have worshipped Rua at some juncture, but they keenly understand that defeating the decorated fighter is a great way to move up the ranks.

While casual fans may not be overly familiar with St. Preux, the light-heavyweight has scored some impressive wins since arriving in the UFC, and he will face Rua at a crucial time for the latter. “Shogun” has gone 2-3 in his last 5 fights, and many have questioned whether his time as a title contender has ended.

While talking about his future, which will include coaching the next season of TUF Brazil, Rua stated in the aforementioned interview:

“I like to look at things fight by fight, as your next fight is always the most important and you have to be careful not to look ahead and lose focus on the task at hand,” he said. “Great things happen when you win, and a lot of bad stuff happens when you lose, so I’ll take it fight by fight. Obviously this time I have TUF Brazil after it (this week’s fight), and most likely a fight against someone else, not Anderson, at the end of the season. So after Saint Preux, 2015 already starts for me and my team with all the work we have ahead. I’m excited and motivated, and the next stop is Uberlandia, where I’ll do my best to give the fans a great fight and the rest is a consequence of our work.”

“Shogun” will likely be the favorite when he faces St. Preux, but the well rounded fighter is wise to not look past the rising 205’er.  A loss would be a massive setback for Rua.

Rua -“OSP” will headline the November 8th, UFC Fight Night 56, which will go down in Uberlandia, Brazil.