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The 2005 star is finally ready to turn 2006 into a winning season.
By Eduardo Alonso.
Rising fast in a quick and impressive career, Mauricio "Shogun" Rua showed great talent since his very debut in MMA, and seemed to be destined to success in the sport from day one. Maybe even more impressive than the skills and potential he showed in each of his bouts, was the amount of improvement he was able to display from fight to fight, and finally in 2005 the originally underdog of Pride’s middleweight Grand Prix took the world by storm and captured the belt in amazing fashion, facing likely the toughest roster of opponents a MMA Grand Prix champion ever did, and establishing himself as a leading force in his weight class at just twenty three years of age. When things seemed perfect for the young prodigy, and there were no limits, his first venture as a heavyweight turned into the most serious injury of his career, sending him to the sidelines and creating a lot of questions regarding his future. Now, around six months later, after an impressively fast recovery, the younger brother of Murilo Ninja Rua, is ready and on his way to a much awaited comeback! Mauricio Shogun will be stepping inside the Pride ring this coming September 10th to face not only striker Cyrille Diabate, but also to overcome a serious injury and resume a career that always seemed destined to great achievements. FCF had a chance to catch up with the fighter right before his departure to Japan, in an honest conversation about his last months, his present and his near future, enjoy!
MR: I really got very sad with my injury, but I tried my best to focus so I wouldn’t let any fears hinder my recovery. I tried to remain tranquil cause I knew that if my emotions were in place, I would likely recover sooner. I did all the needed procedures during my recovery as well as I could, and with that I thankfully had a speedy recovery and I can say that I’m in perfect condition now.
MR: I’m surely 100% Eduardo! I am feeling as good as in the past, and I promised myself that I would come back from my injury better than I was before. This is something I promised to myself, and now once I arrive in Japan [Interview was done on the day of his departure] I’ll try to do some three or four good training sessions, and I hope that I’ll be able to give my best during the fight. This is what I have been asking God, to be able to do my best inside the ring, so I can show all of my game and perform as well as in training recently.
MR: Being an athlete you get used to a life routine where you are always in a hurry, always training hard and spending the most of your energies. You are always busy somehow, so the first three months after the injury where I barely couldn’t do anything, I almost went mad (Laughs), as I would have to stay at home without doing anything! Then I was able to start to swim, as this was the first physical activity that I was allowed to do, and from there things progressed. I’m surely very anxious to fight again, as fighting is what I love, so besides being my profession I do it gladly. Fighting is my life, so I can’t wait for the fight to start, as I feel I’m already 100% again, making this the right time to comeback.
MR: I know his is a good athlete, mostly in striking as he has some Muay Thai background and I believe has won important titles in standing up competitions. He’s surely a good fighter, as he has been one year without losing to anyone, but I expect to be able to do a good fight to please the fans, both in the area and watching it on TV.
MR: I’m going to fight this bout and the next one in the USA at up to 93 kg, and then likely fight one more bout in December. Next year Pride will be doing the 93 kg Grand Prix again, and I’ll likely take part in it, so then in 2008 I will probably move up to heavyweights and stay there.
MR: I think it’s great that Pride is going to the USA, as the U.S. is a very big market. I feel Pride has already conquered almost everything they could in the Japanese market, so I’m sure they’ll be able to also do well with the American public. I have the biggest pleasure in doing promotional work for Pride, as I’m a Pride fighter so I’m always available to help. It was very cool, we stayed for one week in the USA, doing autograph sessions, TV shows and that kind of thing. I think that the October show is very promising and soon Pride will be the top MMA show in the USA.
MR: I have to take one step at a time. I have a fight coming up in Japan now, and I’m sure it’ll be a tough fight, so I don’t even think about my fight against Randleman. I know my fight against Randleman has a lot of expectation and everybody has been asking me about it, so it’s tough not to think of it, but I’m focus on my next fight now, and when I come back from Japan I’ll start to focus on the Randleman bout.
MR: For sure! Everybody knows that the thing I want the most now is to fight Coleman again. This is a fight that all the fans are waiting for, and I think everybody knows that what happened in the first fight was unfortunate. I don’t have anything against Coleman, and I’m a professional fighter and outside of the ring we even greet each other every now and then. But our gig is to fight inside the ring, and I think he is a good athlete, very strong, but since it’s a fight that everybody wants to see, I hope that this fight happens one day, ‘cause I want to be able to prove to everybody that I’m capable of defeating him.
MR: Surely, what I want the most is to fight Coleman again, and if it happens in December it will be great!
MR: The final four are all very tough fighters, and there are no easy fights for anyone there, but I think Wanderlei is an athlete that rises to the occasion, always growing in the tough moments and showing a lot of heart and determination. Because of that I think Wanderlei will be the champion.
MR: I want to thank all the support from my fans, all the people that have been following my work! I want to tell my fans that they are the biggest reason for my motivation. Everyday I wake up early, go to the academy to be beaten up, to get some punishment (Laughs), and they are what motivates me to go trough all the pain. I’ll surely be giving my best in this bout to try to give something back for all their support.