Considered by many to be one of the greatest fighters of this decade, Mauricio Rua has a chance to prove to the world that he is still deserving of that title as when takes on skilled striker Brandon Vera in the main event of UFC on Fox 4 this weekend (Aug. 4, 2012) at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California.
With an impressive victory over "The Truth," Rua will not only earn a chance to reclaim his light heavyweight title, but will have a chance to avenge a loss to either Jon Jones -- current 205-pound champion -- or Dan Henderson -- who he faced at UFC 139 in what many consider the best mixed martial arts (MMA) fight of 2011.
According to the Pride FC 2005 Grand Prix winner, however, the belt is the furthest thing from his mind, though he understands the road back to the title goes through Vera, a fighter he feels does not get enough respect.
Speaking to MMA Weekly, Rua breaks down his looming showdown with Vera and says that being a considered the favorite can be a dangerous thing, while declaring nothing in his aggressive style will change as he will look for the knockout.
Check it out:
"This guy deserves the chance in the UFC because he has a great background in the UFC, and we must respect this. He fought in two different divisions, fought some tough guys, so I think the guy deserves respect. We can't think that way that the guy doesn't deserve the chance. It can be a little dangerous to think I'm the favorite or this guy is the underdog, it's like a trap. We must be focused in my game and my strategy and that's the concern I have."
A potential title shot at stake can be distracting for many, but for Rua, it doesn't deter him from the task at hand:
"It doesn't matter. It's not a distraction for me because I'm still focused like I was a month or two months ago. For me it's important to win the fight, after that then I can think about the future. Right now, I'm just focused on Brandon Vera on Saturday. I'm not thinking about the belt. My main goal this weekend is to beat Vera, then in the future I'll start thinking about the belt. I'm still aggressive, I don't change my plan, and I fight looking for the knockout. I want to give my fans a show. With a huge victory it will be my ticket to the belt again."
Since losing his title to "Bones" at UFC 128 in 2011, Rua has gone an even 1-1, avenging his loss to Forrest Griffin at UFC 134 and coming up short against "Hendo" at UFC 139. Vera, on the other hand, hasn't stepped foot inside the Octagon since he defeated Eliot Marshall at UFC 137 last October in a bout that wasn't his best performance.
Respect, as they say, is earned. And while "Shogun" believes Vera is deserving or more respect by the MMA community, a win over the Brazilian bomber will earn the Muay Thai specialist all the respect and recognition he can handle ... as well as an unlikely title shot.
Can Vera pull of the upset and defeat the former UFC 205-pound champion? Or will "Shogun" get one step closer to reclaiming his strap with an impressive victory in the "City of Angels?"