If you’ve closed the book on “Shogun” Rua returning to the top five of the UFC’s light-heavyweight division, well, the legendary fighter clearly has other ideas.
Rua is scheduled to fight fellow, former champ, Rashad Evans on April 16th. The bout will be part of UFC on FOX 19, which will go down in Tampa, Florida. The fight will be Rua’s first since he worked his way to a decision win over Antonio Rogerio Nogueira last August.
“I think that was a good choice. Sooner or later we would fight each other. We were supposed to fight in 2011, but it didn’t work, so I think now is the right time. I’m happy with this fight. He’s a good fighter, a former champion who deserves respect. That’s a fight I really wanted. My goal now is to beat Rashad. I’m not thinking ahead of that fight. Whatever comes after is a consequence. I want to win this fight and get back in the Top 5, if God allows it.”
Now, considering Rua is currently sitting in the #8 spot, on paper, the storied fighter clearly has a shot at returning to the top five. In addition, since Rua’s only 34 (hard to believe right?), one could argue that he has plenty of time to make another run.
But, when you consider that Rua was taken out by Dan Henderson and Ovince Saint Preux prior to facing “Lil Nog”, and that he’s lost four of his last six fights, returning to the top five would be quite the comeback story. Further, if Rua could go on to defeat any of the current men sitting in the top five– Glover Teixeira, Ryan Bader, Alexander Gustafsson, Anthony Johnson and Jon Jones, that would be something.
Now, does it mean it can’t happen? No. Andrei Arlovski went out and shoved the ‘he’s done’ narrative down many critic’s throats. But when you consider the abilities of Evans, and those of the contenders I just listed, that is one treacherous mountain to climb.