Once upon a time, Mauricio “Shogun” Rua was considered the most feared light heavyweight in the world, but now he has been reduced to nothing more than another body in a long line of hopeful contenders.
At UFC Fight Night 26, Shogun ran into an “Oregon Gangster” who wouldn’t back down.
In a night ripe with upsets, Sonnen shocked the world by submitting Shogun in the first round of the main event bout. The outcome wasn’t so much as shocking as the ending itself. Sonnen is a world class fighter, and plenty of hardcore fans felt his takedowns and top control would be his surefire course to victory.
The vast majority sided with Shogun for good reason. On the feet, Shogun was by far the more technical striker, and he boasted serious knockout power. If the fight hit the ground, Shogun’s world class Brazilian Jiu Jitsu would be a sure thing against Sonnen’s inconsistent submission defense.
But when is there ever a sure thing in MMA?
Overconfidence cost Shogun in the grappling department, as he constantly left his neck hanging out in bad positions. Sonnen made no attempts to mask what he was trying to do. He looked to take advantage of Shogun’s bad posture by constantly working to secure a guillotine choke.
While jockeying for position in the clinch, Sonnen was finally able to latch onto Shogun’s head, drop to closed guard and sink in the guillotine choke for the tap at 4:47 of the first round.
Shogun is 3-5 in his last eight UFC bouts, and for the first time in his professional career, he has lost two straight fights.
At only 31-years-old, the former Pride star is on the down end of his career, and the window appears to be closing fast. Multiple knee surgeries and 29 recorded professional bouts will do that to a fighter.
If Shogun wants to climb back into contention, he’s going to need a lot more than a few boxing lessons with Freddie Roach.
A major hole in Shogun’s fight game has always been his wrestling. It could prove incredibly beneficial to see him shake things up a bit and actually put in extensive work with world class wrestlers.
Shogun’s takedown defense accuracy currently sits at 44 percent, which isn’t going to cut against upper-echelon opposition in the UFC.
It isn’t just about the takedown defense. An offensive wrestling game would create more opportunities for Shogun in the standup and add another dimension to his game.
As far as future matchups are concerned, there are still plenty of interesting fights for Shogun to take and remain relevant. It all comes down to what he hopes to achieve at this point in his career.
Is Shogun looking to only entertain and keep his head above water, or does he have it in him to give one last push for UFC gold?
If gold is what Shogun seeks, his journey should begin on the wrestling mat.