It will be hard for any man to surpass the legacy of Mauricio Rua.
Known as the youngest PRIDE grand prix champion ever -- among his many other achievements -- his storied career has included incredible feats of skill and athleticism, and he has been one of the few members of the "old guard" to stick around to this point. While still a very skilled fighter, Shogun's best years are definitely behind him, and I would like to see his fight against James Te Huna at UFC Fight Night 33 be his last.
That makes him the "Fighter to Watch" on FOX Sports 1.
This bout, set to be the thirtieth in his professional mixed martial arts (MMA) career, is one that scares me as a fan of the longtime Brazilian crowd pleaser. Te Huna is a combatant with scary power and the technique to inflict it, and knowing Rua, I am pretty sure he'll take some of his best shots and make them look like nothing. Shogun's chin is perhaps the only part of his body that has held up through the years, and that is a very scary thing.
Fights against Antonio Rogerio Nogueira and Dan Henderson potentially brought more damage to Shogun's brain than many men will ever experience in a high-level MMA career. He's fought through rattling punches and terrible exhaustion, showing warrior spirit through it all and repeatedly showing fans just how exciting a fighter he can be.
This hard-nosed, stubborn nature has provided fans with many classics, but he does not owe them a single thing and should definitely consider putting an end to his MMA career, and I think he should do it soon.
At the age of only 32 years old, Rua has taken on the role of a grizzled, battle-worn fight veteran, and his body has gone through years of irreversible physical trauma that will undoubtedly rear its ugly head at some point in his future. To give some perspective, he is the same age as UFC Welterweight Champion Georges St-Pierre, who, even while still competing with a very high level of athleticism and skill, is considering retirement himself. Why, then, is Mauricio so averse to the idea that he too might have to hang up his gloves sometime soon?
That is a question only he can answer. Obviously, his mid-fight mentality is very similar to his mentality outside of the cage, as he just doesn't want to quit.
Ultimately, nothing would satisfy me more than seeing Shogun leave professional MMA behind, especially if he can do so coming off a win. At the rate he's going, the Brazilian's career could be very ugly if he prolongs it another few years, and that is not something I want to see happen.
Few people ever want to see a legend leave the sport, but I would be much more comfortable seeing Mauricio Rua leave MMA on his own terms.