Over the last ten years, we’ve watched Mauricio “Shogun” Rua go from young phenom to living legend. Though injuries and and controversial judging have occasionally slowed his momentum during the second half of his career, Shogun enters next weekend’s UFC on FOX 4 matchup with Brandon Vera as a standard-bearer for his generation of fighters, and is still considered among the elite of the light-heavyweight division.
In honor of Rua’s continuing legacy, we’ve picked out the 16 videos that best summarize his journey as a fighter — from the past to the present, from his most unforgettable triumphs to his most crushing defeats. Enjoy, and pay your respects in the comments section.
Mauricio Rua vs. Rodrigo Malheiros de Andrade. Shot in 1998 when Rua was just 16 years old, this footage shows the future PRIDE/UFC star competing in a Muay Thai smoker in somebody’s house in Curitiba, Brazil. Though Shogun shows flashes of his trademark aggression, his technique hasn’t quite blossomed yet, and he winds up getting head-kick KO’d at the video’s 7:15 mark.
Mauricio Rua vs. Rafael Freitas, Meca World Vale Tudo 7, 11/8/02. Rua was 20 years old when he made his official MMA debut against Rafael “Capoeira” Freitas, who was tenacious in his attempts to put Shogun on his back. But Freitas couldn’t keep him there, and the standup exchanges were lopsided in Rua’s favor. After a few minutes of abusing his opponent with knees, punches, and stomps, Shogun finally puts Freitas out cold with a head-kick.
Mauricio Rua vs. Angelo de Oliveira, Meca World Vale Tudo 8, 5/16/03. Brutal and short, Shogun’s second pro fight ended with him literally soccer-kicking his opponent out of the ring.
Mauricio Rua vs. Evangelista “Cyborg” Santos, Meca World Vale Tudo 9, 8/1/03. In his early heyday, Cyborg — the original, male one — seemed more animal than man. Watch how absurdly fast he starts out against Shogun, who has no choice but to fire back and hope for the best. Deciding he’s had enough, Shogun wisely takes the fight to the ground, where he scores full mount and fires down punches until Cyborg rolls over and concedes defeat.
Mauricio Rua vs. Akihiro Gono, PRIDE Bushido 2, 2/15/04. Rua began his PRIDE career with four consecutive first-round knockouts against Japanese opponents. Gono was able to last a full nine minutes thanks to his solid defense, grappling, and a few offensive tricks of his own. (Check out that trip-throw at 4:36.) But at the 10:15 mark, Shogun lights up Gono with strikes, and the Japanese fighter collapses into soccer-kick range. Checkmate.
Mauricio Rua vs. Hiromitsu Kanehara, PRIDE 29, 2/20/05. Rua tries to show off some of his grappling, before realizing that it would be a hell of a lot easier to stomp another one of these jokers to death. No highlight reel of Shogun’s savage finishes would be complete without this one.
On the next page: Shogun becomes a legend in PRIDE — and a bust in the UFC.