Mauricio Rua vs. Quinton Jackson, Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, Alistair Overeem, and Ricardo Arona, during the 2005 Pride Middleweight Grand Prix. Arguably the most impressive tournament run in MMA history, the 23-year-old Shogun sliced through a murderer’s row of PRIDE 205-pounders over three separate events, permanently establishing himself as one of MMA’s greatest talents ever. Save yourself some time and watch Genghis Con‘s classic highlight reel of the MWGP, which presents all the important action with a bitchin’ ’80s soundtrack.
Mauricio Rua vs. Mark Coleman, PRIDE 31, 2/26/06. Rua’s first fight after his tournament sweep ended abruptly and painfully, as his arm snapped on the way down from a Coleman takedown. Of course, the match is far more memorable for what came next. A hyped-out-of-his mind Hammer tossed the ref aside in an attempt to break some more of Shogun’s bones, which led to a brawl between the Chute Boxe and Hammer House camps, ending with Wanderlei Silva getting a foot on his neck. Skip to the 7:50 mark to hear Coleman’s equally hyped-up re-telling of the events. Indeed, “little ass” Ninja heeded Mark’s warning and stayed at 185.
Mauricio Rua vs. Cyrille Diabate, PRIDE Final Conflict, 9/10/06. Seven months after the Coleman fiasco, Shogun was back in the ring for a tune-up fight against PRIDE newcomer Cyrille Diabate. Though Rua vowed to stand with the Snake, he instead took Diabate down twice, and the second takedown was followed by a classic Shogun hellstorm of stomps and soccer kicks. The kid was back.
(Skip to the 4:53 mark for the beginning of the fight.)
Mauricio Rua vs. Alistair Overeem, PRIDE 33, 2/24/07. Shogun’s final PRIDE appearance came in a rematch with the Demolition Man, and it ended even quicker than their first meeting in 2005. Overeem successfully spilled Shogun onto the mat multiple times in the early goings of the fight, but let him up each time, preferring to stand and trade. However, when Rua finally gets on top of Overeem, he shows no mercy, earning a vicious ground-and-pound knockout. With the win over the Reem, Shogun ended his PRIDE career with a record of 12-1, with nine wins by knockout and his only loss coming due to injury.
Mauricio Rua vs. Forrest Griffin, UFC 76, 9/22/07. Shogun’s UFC debut turned out to be one of MMA’s greatest upsets, as he was submitted by Ultimate Fighter winner Forrest Griffin, who wasn’t considered to be an elite-level fighter before that night. Rua reportedly came into the match nursing a knee injury that prevented him from training properly, and his conditioning began to fail him in round two. In the third round, Griffin used an omoplata to reverse on top of Shogun, and stayed on him until he was able to sink a rear-naked choke with 15 seconds left in the fight. Rua’s reputation took a massive hit that night, but a stunning career comeback was just around the corner.
On the next page: Shogun’s brief championship reign, redemption against Griffin, and an unforgettable meeting with Hendo.