Mauricio “Shogun” Rua (22-5-0) vs. Alexander “The Mauler” Gustafsson (14-1-0)
Just like the BJ Penn and Rory MacDonald fight, the Shogun and Gustafsson fight is an aging veteran facing off against the new blood of a division. It is hard to think of Shogun as the aging veteran since just a few years ago he was a monster destroying fighters left and right. Unfortunately, knee injuries have taken away some of his ability, and have taken away some of his best fight years. He has stayed healthy for a while and had some great bouts, but they did not always turn to his favor. In this fight, he faces Gustafsson who is hungry for a title shot, and to put Shogun’s name on his record under the win column.
Shogun only has five losses in his career, but when you break them down it has either been a close decision or when he has fought with an injury. The Dan Henderson and Machida losses are decision that many believe should have went his way. In the Mark Coleman loss he broke his arm off an awkward takedown, and with Jon Jones, Forrest Griffin, and Renato Sobral he was either coming off an injury or had surgery following the bout. That is not to say I am making excuses for Shogun, but that a healthy Shogun may lose a fight but it is going to be hard to win.
For Gustafsson, he has never been put in trouble. Except the one time he was against Phil Davis, as he was submitted in the first round. People point to his fight with Thiago Silva as a good win, but is Silva anywhere near the fighter he was four years ago? No. Gustafsson has a chance, but it will be interesting to see what happens when he is faced with Shogun’s rapid fire pace.
The Bottom Line:
Look for Shogun to take control in the second and end it there via strikes.