Former light-heavyweight champion UFC Mauricio Rua will continue his career resurrection against co-star Anthony Smith on Sunday night (22 July 2018) at UFC Fight Night 134 at the Barclaycard Arena Hamburg, Germany
"Shogun" always wavers between a violent technician and a crazy bat. In addition to Wanderlei Silva, he is the most famous representative of the Chute Boxe Academy and their legendary offensive fighting approach. Of course, such a risky style tends to strain the body quickly, and Rua definitely reached a point where his brawls were no longer sustainable.
Fortunately, the Brazilian has recognized that as well. His last three fights have been among Rua's most consistent performances in years, but make no mistake, "shogun" still brings the violence.
Rua is a very pure representative of Muay Thai, who makes good use of punches, kicks and knees and rarely strikes. Of his 25 professional wins, 20 are about KO, which is just amazing statistics.
I wrote something similar four years ago before Rua's match with Ovince Saint-Preux – which definitely marks a turning point that Rua really sticks out positive changes – but you can tell a lot about Rua's possible achievements, depending on whether he does occurs or not. Kicking is an absolutely fundamental part of Rua's offense, but repeated knee injuries over the years have made it questionable whether or not Rua will actually use that part of his offensive.
Rua has consistently kicked in his last three fights, and that's an important reason why he won those fights.
"Shogun" is not much of a jabber. He will occasionally fire his leading hand, but Rua generally uses the low kick to find his reach. If Rua is unable to kick, he does not really adapt, as his long-power strokes are less likely to be without Range Finder.
Rua's latest match with Corey Anderson was a great example of how effective he can be when his low kicks flow. Anderson is a smart fighter and his approach to the legend of the Chute Boxe was to keep his feet moving and work behind the jab. Not a bad plan in the least, but Rua did a really excellent job as Anderson gave in slightly and dropped the strike while "Shogun" made a quick kick in or out.
Rua also did a good job of assisting Anderson with punches before landing the Low Kick (GIF), and a man who is capable of defeating in both leadership and defense is a dangerous striker. Of course, the best examples of Rua supporting an opponent before hacking his leg are his struggles with Lyoto Machida. Repeatedly, he forced the karateka to withdraw from his power shots, then Rua would slap his leg into every leg Machida had left behind (GIF). Although Machida struck many blows by facing Rua as he went forward, he also absorbed enough kicks to seriously affect his ability to move.
Also against Southpaws like Machida and Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, Rua will look more often on the open side for a body shot. There is little setup here, as Rua can often only play with his leading hand before hitting the middle section or head (GIF).
In addition to his Muay Thai roots, Rua has worked with famed boxing coach Freddie Roach over the years, and has definitely resulted in a noticeable improvement in his hands. In particular, Rua's counterstrike has grown rather and has actually provided for his recent knockout victories.
That's not to say that there is something complicated about Rua's counterattack. When Rua's opponent attacks, Rua simply makes it better to bend his knees and slip to the side, which increases his power shot and gives him a better chance to dodge his opponent's blow (GIF). In addition, Rua uses the left hook more often as a hit and often tries to slip into the thrust of his opponent before he jumps into the hook. He was already pretty good on the cross, so another tool against the jab is very dangerous.
After all, Rua was historically very good at countering low kicks. On the whole, Corey Anderson was good at holding his rank and stepping with Rua. However, it only took an outside delivery kick from too close for Rua to drive forward. Catch the kick and hit him with an upper hand, which Rua probably won the close decision (GIF).
Regarding offensive boxing, Ruas Feint is enormously important. Again, he usually sticks to long kicks, so the opponent generally knows he will not jump from a distance. His power is therefore better camouflaged by Feint and variety, otherwise he is prone to counterattacks.
As far as variety is concerned, Rua does a good job of distinguishing himself from his leadership. The leading right hand is definitely a threat to Rua, often followed by a left hook or a low kick. Alternatively, Rua can fake a lead on the right and charge the left hook – much like Chad Mendes did last weekend – and so the Brazilian Chuck Liddell (GIF) has stopped.
In addition, Rua reverses the angle of his right hand, often both behind and overhand. As soon as there is a risk of overreaching, Rua does a good job and instead attacks with his right uppercut. While this is a risky push, Rua has rocked a number of opponents who are afraid of ducking over their heads.
After all, Rua can often grab a double collar with his long power shots. From this position, any PRIDE FC fan can tell you that a brutal Knights Control is on the way (GIF).
As mentioned before, the defense of Rua is definitely different from combat to combat. Lately, it has been pretty tight as Rua has committed to putting up his risky strikes and slipping in front of his counters. At the same time, Rua's attitude will probably always be ready to take you to land if necessary.
In the past, Rua has relied only on wrestling when he is seriously tired or faces a very dangerous striker. However, against Nogueira, Rua turned to his wrestling as a total despair, and the result was a rally back to victory.
A seasoned striker, Rua tends to shoot if he wants to. It's rarely pretty – Rua often chooses a body lock / double leg hybrid – but ducking under and landing on the hips is by far the most important part of landing a shot (GIF). In addition, the Rua tends to good success when they wrestle at the fence.
Compared to "Lil Nog" Rua did well with the high-crotch, which is a great shot that you can use against opponents. When Nogueira came forward to beat, his lead leg was very close to Ruas, which meant that "shogun" could easily fall and the whistle could run immediately.
Similar to the rest of his game, Ruas Takedown Defense is a fall-by-case based on knee injury and conditioning. If he is gassed and on unsteady legs, Rua is not a heavy man to the ground. Returning to his Anderson fight, Rua defended most of his opponent's takes quite well. By and large, the Rua tends to better defend the shots along the fence, where it can stall with a whisk and a wrist control until there is an opportunity to hunt for the tie with the double collar. Out in the open, Rua is a bit more vulnerable to looking for his opponent's chin in time and leaving his hips open for an opposing double leg.
After his Grand Prix victory in 2005, Rua was awarded by him black belt by Antonio Schembri. Rua's statistics on the submissions that have come in against the submitted seasons may not be great, but Rua has shown a lot of craft on the mat.
The highlight of Ruas Grappling is his leg locks. Many times during his career, both in the past and in the past, Rua has used his leg-lock game to attack or get out of bad position.
One last leglock technique that Rua has tried is the drop-down heel hook of the back clinch. While controlling his opponent's back, Rua will kick one foot between his opponent's leg and then sit down. While sitting, he throws his two legs around one of his opponents and lands in the position of the heel hook. It has not worked yet and usually ends up with Rua on the ground, but he tries repeatedly.
The other submission that Rua often attacks is the omaplata. His structure is not complex, he just framed his face and grabbed his own foot when his opponent put his hand on the mat (GIF). While he has yet to finish one, he has swept both Coleman and Ricardo Arona with Omoplatas. The latter is very impressive, because Arona is an ADCC champion and an expert in controlling enemies from above.
The last technique Rua uses from his half-guard is getting up. After Rua does not sweep or subdue his opponent, he secures a sub-hook and sits down in either half guard or butterfly. From there, he can usually get up by digging his heels and keeping his feet under him.
Rua is a man who does not let fear in the cage attack, and that can be risky on the mat. Twice in his career, Rua fell from the bottom to the floor and used a paddle to stand, leaving his neck free. Guillotine's losses to Renato Sobral and Chael Suns should be a decade apart, but Rua's mistake was the same when he tried to throw himself against a dangerous grappler.
Rua's current three-fight winning streak is awesome. The Brazilian realized he had to change his approach deep in his career, which is almost impossible. More than that, Rua did it without sacrificing what makes him a great fighter and legend. As unlikely as it may seem, Rua is likely to prepare for a title win with a victory on Sunday, and even if this opportunity is terrible for him, "Shogun" deserves much credit for his career renaissance.
Andrew Richardson, a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu belt, is a professional fighter training at Team Alpha Male in Sacramento, California. In addition to learning world-class talents, Andrew has sought out opponents and developed winning strategies for some of the elite fighters.