Former UFC Light heavyweight champion Mauricio “Shogun” Rua will look to get back into the win column when he faces off with the fast-talking Chael Sonnen at this weekend’s UFC Fight Night 26 from the TD Garden in Boston. Last seen dropping a decision to current 205 lb. title challenger Alexander Gustafsson at UFC on FOX 5 last December, Rua is in a fight for his relevancy.
A statement win over Sonnen could have him back on track and seeking a Top-5 opponent for his next bout. Shogun knows that he’ll have to be on the lookout for Sonnen’s patented smothering top game, and that’s something he’s obviously prepared for. Shogun spoke up to MMA Fighting to detail his preparation for the former MW and LHW title challenger:
“I focused on (working on my wrestling), but also on what I have to do to defeat him. 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.”
Shogun has also been training his boxing with highly touted coach Freddie Roach, so it seems that he’ll come into the Sonnen bout having prepared his all-around game. The knock on Shogun has always been his cardio, which, coupled with the many injuries he’s suffered, has caused to show up as a lesser version of himself in certain fights. If he’s in shape, there are very few Light heavyweights that can deal with the relentless onslaught of Shogun’s power kickboxing skills.
But of course Sonnen brings another weapon to the table, and that’s his well-documented TUE (Therapeutic Use Exemption) for TRT. Despite his use of the therapy for the past three years, Sonnen has failed in three title bouts. There’s a trend developing in MMA that shows TRT definitely does not guarantee a win at the top levels of the game. For Shogun, it’s something that doesn’t really matter to him at this point:
“I don’t care about that. 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.”
Rua appears to have covered all of the bases heading into Saturday night. The BJJ arena has always been Sonnen’s Achilles heel, and Shogun possesses an underrated submission game that is truly dangerous from the bottom guard. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him try and slip a leglock or heel hook on an unsuspecting Sonnen. He’ll most likely have the opportunity, because it’s going to be tough to avoid every single takedown attempt from the former University of Oregon standout. Who is your pick to win this pivotal Light Heavyweight showdown?