This past weekend (Aug., 4, 2012) at UFC on Fox 4 in Los Angeles, Calif., Mauricio Rua got back on the winning track by defeating the very tough and game Brandon Vera in the main event of the evening.
Though his fourth round knockout victory over "The Truth" wasn't as impressive as Lyoto Machida's knockout of Ryan Bader in the co-main event to earn a Light Heavyweight title shot, and didn't meet the fan expectations of a quick stomping, the fact remains that Rua got the all important "W."
After the bout, many, including Rua himself, criticized his performance due to cardio issues which saw the former 2005 PRIDE Middleweight Grand Prix winner tire by the midway point of the second round after coming close to finishing Vera early on.
Eventually, the Brazilian bomber landed some brutal shots that ended the fight in the fourth round and during his post-fight interview with UFC commentator Joe Rogan, Rua admitted it was not his best performance. The majority of the mixed martial arts (MMA) community, agreed.
Now, head trainer Andre Dida, tells Tatame that he, too, was surprised that Rua ‘gassed' in the bout but that fans shouldn't be too quick to criticize his performance because he achieved his goal of obtaining the knockout:
"It was a war, a cardio test, but we got the win. Shogun did his entire training camp with me, Sergio (Moraes) and the team. Our game plan was making Vera feel his heavy hands and take him down to use Shogun's Jiu-Jitsu, which was the easiest way for Shogun to beat him. Tactically it was alright, but it was really a surprise for us and also for Shogun that he gassed out. A win is a win, it doesn't matter if you score it with your head, shoulder or knee. Shogun knocked him out and did his job. I'm very proud of him and he proved he never gives up. Fighting him is always a war and he never surrenders."
Often considered one of the best fighters of the decade, Rua's rise to fame came during his time competing in Japan with PRIDE FC--specifically, his terrorizing run through the promotions 2005 Middleweight Grand Prix tournament.
Dida says, that even though fans have come to expect the same viciousness that ‘Shogun' displayed early on in his career, it simply can't be replicated, though the team will work on the issues at hand:
"Shogun has reached his physical peak already and it doesn't come back. I saw many people criticizing him, but the team approved his performance: he went for the knockout and won. You can always correct some details in your fight, like it happened this time but we're going to fix it and get there We couldn't work Shogun's 100 percent on a fight but it will happen. We will do it and I hope it happens when we have a chance at the title. We're getting along just fine and we'll make it work."
Rua is far from a washed up fighter and at 30 years of age, he has plenty of fight left him and don't be surprised if you see him make a run for the title before his career is up. However, being involved in constant all-out brawls, such as the one with Vera and previously with Dan Henderson at UFC 139, while entertaining for fans, can't be good for his well-being.
Though fans were quick to criticize the fact that Rua, the heavy favorite going into the bout with Vera, didn't finish the fight earlier and easier than expected, Vera should be given credit for the fact that he refused to serve as a simple stepping stone by bringing the fight to the former 205-pound champion.
How about it Maniacs, can Rua correct his cardio issues in his next outing? Is the criticism against "Shogun" just? Or are not enough people giving credit to Vera for making it a tougher fight than what many expected?