On December 7th in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, “Shogun” Rua will scrap light-heavyweight prospect James Te-Huna in the co-main event at UFC Fight Night 33: “Hunt vs. Bigfoot”. Rua will look to snap his 2 fight losing streak and get himself back into title contention. Te-Huna will be looking to do the same, as he is also coming off of a loss to current UFC light-heavyweight title challenger Glover Teixeira. After such a long and distinguished career, should Shogun attempt to make one last title run?
Shogun was the 2005 PrideFC Middleweight Grand Prix champion and has long been considered to be one of the top fighters in the sport. During his tenure in Pride, he claimed wins over Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, Quinton Jackson, Ricardo Arona and Alistair Overeem just to name a few of his notable victories.
Shogun made his UFC debut on September 22nd, 2007 against Forrest Griffin at UFC 76. The former PrideFC monster was a heavy favorite, but was surprisingly upset as Shogun was submitted by rear-naked choke in the third round. During this fight, Shogun re-aggravated a prior knee injury and was forced to take a year and a half to recover.
Shogun bounced back from his loss to Griffin by stringing together 2 TKO wins, the first over an aging Mark Coleman at UFC 93 and the second over Chuck Liddell at UFC 97. Shogun looked back to old form, and it seemed as if he had regained some of his confidence.
On October 24th, 2009 Shogun challenged then-champion Lyoto Machida for his light-heavyweight strap. Shogun lost a controversial unanimous decision to Machida, but was granted an immediate rematch and won the UFC light-heavyweight title by knocking out Machida in the first round at UFC 113.
Shogun’s reign as champion was short as he was dethroned by current light-heavyweight champion Jon “Bones” Jones at UFC 128. Shogun was absolutely dominated, as Jones used his size and reach to dissect Shogun with his striking and finished with a series of knees and punches.
Since the loss to Jones, Shogun has been very inconsistent. Shogun is 2-3 in his last 5 fights with his 2 wins being (T)KO wins over Forrest Griffin and Brandon Vera. Shogun’s losses have been to the crème of the crop. Shogun dropped a controversial decision loss to Dan Henderson at UFC 139 (a fight that was named 2011 Fight of the Year), a unanimous decision loss to current #1 UFC light-heavyweight contender Alexander Gustafsson at UFC on Fox “Henderson vs. Diaz” and a guillotine choke submission loss to Chael Sonnen at UFC Fight Night 26.
Shogun is 0-2 coming into this fight against Te-Huna and many are wondering if retirement is near for the PrideFC Middleweight Grand Prix Champion. Shogun has alluded to a possible move to the middleweight division (perhaps to follow in the footsteps of his former rival Lyoto Machida) and this is definitely appealing. This would provide Shogun with a slightly more level playing field as he had a difficult time dealing with the size and reach of both Jones and Gustafsson. Personally, I believe Shogun is too young and too talented to retire right now. Possible middleweight fights with Michael Bisping, Vitor Belfort and a rubber-match against Lyoto Machida are all appealing possibilities for the Brazilian should he move down.
Is it time for Shogun to retire or test the waters at middleweight?