Ever since he exploded into the mainstream MMA scene in Pride FC, Mauricio ‘Shogun’ has been a perennial fan favourite. He has fought the most talented fighters the sport in some of the most exciting encounters in memory and more often than not come out on top.
UFC 139 in San Jose on November 19th saw Shogun square off against fellow Pride veteran Dan Henderson in what proved to be another classic involving the legendary Brazilian. For some fans, it was the first time they had seen what all the fuss is about concerning Shogun, and why he has so many fans.
So, in no particular order, here are five of Shogun’s career-defining performances:
vs. Quinton Jackson at Pride Total Elimination 2005
This was where the exciting young Brazilian announced himself to the mainstream MMA world in spectacular fashion. Jackson was one of Pride’s stand-out fighters at the time but Shogun utterly dominated him with knees, kicks and strikes.
The bout was stopped when Shogun let loose on the ground with soccer kicks. With this performance the fighting world took notice and the Brazilian advanced to the second round of the Middleweight Grand Prix.
vs. Antonio Rogerio Nogueira at Pride Critical Countdown 2005
Ask people what the greatest Pride match was and this encounter wouldn’t be far off. Not only was it Rua versus Nogueira but it was also Chute Boxe versus Brazilian Top Team – two of MMA’s premier teams and most bitter rivals.
Nogueira felled Rua in the first but Shogun recovered and took down Little Nog and landed some diving punches. Rua’s work in the second and third rounds ultimately won him a decision as he continued to connect with his diving punches and knocked his opponent down in the last round.
Shogun handed Nogueira his first loss in three years and advanced to the Middleweight Grand Prix quarter final.
vs. Ricardo Arona at Pride Final Conflict 2005
After defeating a who’s who of top 205Ibs fighters in the world just Ricardo Arona was between Mauricio Rua and the Pride Middleweight Grand Prix Championship. Shogun overwhelmed his opponent throughout much of the first round with an eclectic mix of punches, knees, kicks and foot stops.
Midway through, Arona left his face exposed and Shogun rained down hammer fists to render his opponent unconscious. He was crowned the Grand Prix Champion and the general consensus top light heavyweight fighter in the world.
Shogun vs Arona(MW) by MU974
vs. Chuck Liddell at UFC 97
Shogun badly needed to not only win this fight but also in dominating fashion. Since his much-hyped move to the UFC he had flattered to deceive in the octagon, losing to Forrest Griffin and huffing and puffing his way past an aging Mark Coleman.
Right from the get-go against UFC legend Chuck Liddell Shogun looked to have his old speed and sharpness back. It was too much for Liddell to handle and Rua finished off the American with punches towards the end of the first to garner a title-shot that propelled him right back into the 205Ibs mix.
vs. Lyoto Machida at UFC 113
If in their first encounter Shogun had dented the mystique of the undefeated Machida - losing a controversial decision… in this, their rematch, he well and truly destroyed it. Rua seemingly picked up where he left off before stalking Machida around the octagon.
About mid-way through the opening round he dropped his opponent with a right hand before swarming upon him on the ground until the fight was stopped and he was declared the new UFC Light-Heavyweight Champion.