He debuted with PRIDE Fighting Championships in 2003 and two years later, he won his weight division's grand prix by defeating Quinton Jackson, Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, Alistair Overeem and Ricardo Arona in the matter of just a few months.
Seven years later, he finds himself in the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), a former champion but 3-3 in his last six fights. However, with a victory in the main event of UFC on Fox 4 over Brandon Vera, "Shogun" has found himself right back in the title picture.
Thanks to the cancelation of UFC 151, we're without a big fight for nearly a month so let's have some fun and take a look at his victory over Alistair Overeem at Pride 33: Second Coming. It was the second time Rua had faced "The Demolition Man" but the outcome remained the same.
The bell sounds and we're underway. The Brazilian launches a leg kick which is mostly dodged by his pre-"Ubereem" opponent and they each throw a rapid punch, neither of which connects. From the onset, "Shogun" is making the center of the ring his home while the Dutchman circles around.
A high kick from Rua is blocked and Overeem answers back with a nice jumping knee to the body before blocking a second head kick. Once again going low, Rua opts for a leg kick but this time, it's countered by "The Demolition Man" with a crisp two-punch combination.
Rua weaves out of the way of a hook and clinches up with Overeem, attempting to wrestle his 2005 grand prix opponent to the mat. As he attempts to lift the Dutchman up, his grip falters and he tumbles to the canvas but Overeem opts to keep the fight vertical.
A body kick from "Shogun" is caught and he's quickly dumped onto the floor. Delivering a single punch, Overeem decides not to play with Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt fire and allows his opponent to get back to his feet.
So far, Overeem has done just about everything in this bout right. He finally makes a mistake when an inside leg kick thrown Rua's way causes him to lose his footing, allowing the Brazilian close enough to clinch up. They jockey for position along the ropes, "The Demolition Man" throwing knees to the body and head whenever he can.
As they separate, Rua dives in for a takedown but his opponent avoids it entirely before unleashing a quick flurry to make the Brazilian pay for his attempt. A striking exchange then tangles them up and Overeem literally shoves Rua onto the mat and then snaps his head back with a jab before bullying him against the ropes.
"Shogun" desperately seeks a takedown and finally gets it in the form of a low-percentage kimura attempt. He eventually lets the submission go and Overeem forces the fight back to its feet. Rua then unloads with a series of punches before diving in again, latching onto one of his opponent's legs and finally, with the approval of the crowd, gets the Dutchman on his back.
In Overeem's guard, Rua stands up and eats a solid upkick. Regardless, he dives in, answering back with a huge shot across "The Demolition Man's" jaw. He stands up again and bides his time for what seems like an eternity.
Finally, the Brazilian makes his move. Seconds later, Overeem is knocked out cold.
Rua leapt and connected with a punch so hard, the sound of the impact was easily picked up by the ringside cameras. His defenses now completely compromised, Overeem was unable to prevent the barrage which followed.
Rua left PRIDE, the promotion he conquered, a winner only to enter the Octagon on the wrong side of one of the sport's biggest upsets.
Since then, his career has been marked by dizzying highs and dejected lows.
Does he have one more ascent up the 205-pound mountain in him?