Shogun Rua looking for justice

Mauricio (Shogun) Rua celebrates after defeating Forrest Griffin of the U.S. during the UFC Rio, a...

Mauricio (Shogun) Rua celebrates after defeating Forrest Griffin of the U.S. during the UFC Rio, a professional mixed martial arts (MMA) competition in Rio de Janeiro August 27, 2011. (REUTERS)

NEIL SPRINGER, QMI AGENCY

, Last Updated: 9:36 AM ET

It took 10 years, but Mauricio (Shogun) Rua is poised to avenge one of his brother’s losses.

At PRIDE 17 on Nov. 3, 2001, Murilo (Ninja) Rua dropped a razor-thin split decision to Dan Henderson. Some still feel Henderson got a gift from the judges that night, but the record books show it as a victory for the MMA legend.

Now that Mauricio Rua is set to meet Henderson in the main event of UFC 139 in San Jose, Calif., Saturday, he admits his brother played a big role in his training camp.

“Certainly that was a great fight,” Rua said through his translator, Eduardo Alonso. “I’ve watched the fight between my brother and Dan Henderson a number of times and it was a very competitive fight.

“My brother was one of the people that helped me a lot with my strategy for this fight against Dan. I hope to be able to impose my rhythm and game, knowing that it will be a tough fight and a great fight with a very tough fighter.”

Though both competed in PRIDE’s 205-pound division for a number of years, they never met in the ring. When Henderson knocked out then-champion Wanderlei Silva at PRIDE 33 in 2007, speculation swirled his first title defence would be against Rua. But a month later PRIDE went under and the bout never materialized — until now.

“I’m excited about fighting Shogun,” Henderson said. “It’s something the fans have been looking forward to for a long time and wanting to see for a long time. He’s a tough opponent, well-rounded and definitely a huge challenge for me to get past.”

It’s no secret Rua’s UFC run has been plagued by injuries and inconsistent performances. Every time he steps into the octagon after recovering from surgery, the 29-year-old Brazilian is a shadow of his former self. But then in his second fight back, he looks like a killer.

After squeaking by Mark Coleman at UFC 93 on Jan. 17, 2009, Rua’s next bout saw him knockout Chuck Liddell three months later. When he lost his light-heavyweight title to Jon Jones earlier this year, he bounced back by knocking out Forrest Griffin at UFC 134 in August.

Rua said he’s completely healthy going in his fight with Henderson.

“I’m 100% recovered from my injuries,” Rua said. “For a fighter, it’s tough to stay sidelined for one year without competing. As a fighter, I like to stay active, stay busy, fight often and keep a rhythm.

“Thank God I’ve recovered from my injuries and I hope to keep this rhythm going on and keep fighting and being active for a long time.”

For Henderson, this marks his third separate stint with the UFC. His first appearance saw him win the UFC 17 tournament on May 15, 1998. After spending years competing in Japan, he returned in 2007 and went 3-2 in the octagon. His losses during that run were in title fights with Quinton (Rampage) Jackson and Anderson Silva.

He spent the last year and a half fighting for Strikeforce, where he won the light-heavyweight title and even went up in weight to knock out Fedor Emelianenko.

Though he’s 41 years old, Henderson has showed no signs of slowing down and remains one of the top fighters in the world. A win over Rua could earn him a shot at light-heavyweight champion Jones.

“I definitely feel like I’ve got a lot of fight left in me,” Henderson said. “I come with a game plan for every opponent, every fight.

“I haven’t given a whole lot of thought (on how to beat Jones). Since I’ve been matched up with Shogun, that’s been my focus.

“Jones is very unorthodox and it would be a fun type of fight for me. I haven’t given it a whole lot of thought in terms of game plan yet. I’m really focused on this fight and none of that can happen if I don’t have a good fight on Saturday.”

On paper, this is a great bout between two of MMA’s top knockout artists.

Henderson’s known for his insane punching power, absolutely vicious overhand right, and granite chin. In 36 professional fights, he has never been knocked out. The former Olympian clearly edges Rua in the wrestling department, but has been taken down after getting overly aggressive.

Rua is the more diverse striker, utilizing a wide array of kicks, punches and knees. He has a strong submission game and some of the most underrated ground-and-pound in the sport. His hammerfists in particular are devastating, having knocked out both Ricardo Arona and Forrest Griffin with the strikes. He has also never woken up to find himself inexplicably staring at an arena’s ceiling.

Needless to say, both fighters would love to be the first person to knock the other guy out.

“I guess I can get knocked out just like anybody else,” Henderson said. “I’ve been lucky enough not to get hit on the button during my fights.

“Good luck to him on that one.”


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