There’s a reason fighters retire at a young age, and its not just the loss of edge in speed and explosiveness that the onset of age engenders. Wear and tear is a big factor in ending careers as the days and years of training take their toll on body parts that are being used and abused far in excess of what nature intended for them.

Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua is one of those fighters that seems to have slowed a bit in recent years. He’s still having thrilling wars but he seems to have lost a bit of his athletic edge and his cardiovascular fitness isn’t the best – he certainly isn’t doing triathlons for fun like Nick Diaz is. But something about him caught my eye at the weekend’s UFC on FOX 4 event that makes me wonder of there is a definite physical factor at play:

My personal guess is that he’s suffered a bad separated shoulder at some point. Most medical facilities grade a shoulder separation – where the clavicle becomes detached – from I to III. The Grade III separations almost always  require surgery to correct but event a Grade I leaves a noticeable lump on the shoulder (I had a Grade II years ago and I have a visible ‘half egg’ lump over my left clavicle).

If it is the legacy of a separated shoulder then its a very debilitating thing to train with. Post-separation shoulders fatigue easily, re-injure easily and often get very, very sore in grappling situations. Obviously there is no way to say Shogun is experiencing any of that – and I wouldn’t expect him to admit it publicly if he was – but I do wonder if his cardio issues might be caused in part by his shoulder limiting the amount of grappling and wrestling and he can do.

Update – Shogun apparently did suffer a broken collarbone recently. According to the Brazilian sports site UOL:

“Shogun suffered a lesion in the right shoulder of the eight weeks before the match [with Dan Henderson at UFC 139] in San Jose. He dislocated his collarbone and partially tore a ligament in place, which in addition to delaying its preparation, delayed by about a month the start of practice to meet Henderson.”

“With the problem, Shogun came to having to keep the shoulder immobilized and even get an official commitment in disguise. In the first conference with Henderson on the 27th of September, the Brazilian appeared with a bandage on his hand. The “strategy” was to appear without wearing a sling to avoid the affected region being targeted [in the fight].”