Shogun – Chapter One

By Thomas Gerbasi

On Saturday, March 19, 23-year old Jon Jones will challenge for the UFC light heavyweight title in the main event of UFC 128 in Newark, New Jersey. The man he will face that night, champion Mauricio “Shogun” Rua, knows a little something about being the young gun tearing through everyone in his path, as he did so back in his days in Japan’s PRIDE organization.

In his 23rd year, Rua went 5-0, defeating Hiromitsu Kanehara, Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, Alistair Overeem, and Ricardo Arona, an amazing run to say the least. And while the 29-year old version of Shogun is finally healthy and ready to build on his UFC knockout wins over Mark Coleman, Chuck Liddell, and Lyoto Machida, now we’re going to look back at the defining bouts of the first chapter of his fighting career.

Akira Shoji – October 5, 2003 – PRIDE Bushido 1
Result – Rua KO1
4-1 in his mixed martial arts career, 21-year old Mauricio Rua made his PRIDE debut against the man many of the Japanese organization’s big names made their bones against – veteran gatekeeper Akira Shoji. And despite the fact that Shoji had been on the losing end of his PRIDE bouts more often than not, he was never one to go away quietly, and he actually came into the Rua bout with a two-fight winning streak, his first in three years. And while obviously raw technique wise, there was no disputing the athleticism and potential of the youngster from Curitiba, who rebounded from a slow start that saw him taken down and almost caught in a heel hook to stop Shoji with a series of flush shots to the head at the 3:47 mark. The win began a streak that lasted nearly two and a half years and built Rua from unknown to superstar.


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