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UFC Fight Night 56 complete fighter breakdown, Mauricio Rua vs Ovince St. Preux edition resident fighter analyst Andrew Richardson breaks down the mixed martial arts (MMA) game of UFC Fight Night 56 headliners Mauricio Rua and Ovince St. Preux scheduled for this Saturday (Nov. 8, 2014) inside Ginasio Municipal Tancredo Neves in Uberlandia, Brazil

Chris Hyde

Former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) light heavyweight champion, Mauricio Rua, and Strikeforce veteran, Ovince St. Preux, will attempt to get back into the win column this Saturday (Nov. 8, 2014) inside Ginasio Municipal Tancredo Neves in Uberlandia, Brazil.

Though "Shogun" has fallen on tough times recently and is clearly not a contender, the Brazilian's last two performances have actually been fairly solid. So while Rua's remaining time in the top 10 is likely short, he may still have some quality wins left in him.

On the other hand, St. Preux should be hitting his prime right about now. However, he looked pretty green in his bout with Ryan Bader, which is not good for a fighter 20 fights into his career. Against an aging Rua, "OSP" has been given another chance to shine.

Let's take a closer look at the skills of both men.


Having trained with some of the best coaches in the world throughout his career -- such as Rafael Cordeiro and Freddie Roach -- it's no surprise that Rua possesses some nasty striking. From the very beginning, Rua's kickboxing has revolved around his aggression and penchant for violence as much as technique.

Simply put, Rua has been terribly inconsistent throughout his UFC career. Whether that's due to injuries, aging, or a lack of motivation is known only to the man himself, but this analysis will assume that Rua intends to fight similarly to his last couple performances.

Of course, Rua could come out, simply throw haymakers after gassing out in a round, and make this analysis fairly pointless.

Recently, Rua has been utilizing his jab much more often. While keeping his opponent at bay with the jab, the Brazilian looks for low kicks. In his past, Rua's low kicks had been one of his nastiest weapons, so it's nice to see him bring them back.

Rather than simply brawl with no set up, Rua steps into his power punches after establishing his range with those strikes. This worked quite well against Henderson, as Rua softened him up early and often, then nearly finished "Hendo" with a powerful uppercut.

Between his jabs and low kicks, Rua ensures that standing at range with him is a very unappealing option. When his opponent looks to close the distance with punches, Rua will attempt to counter with power punches. Not only did Rua drop Henderson in the first round with counter strikes, he also put Te Huna to sleep with a counter left hook.

Hopefully, Rua comes out fighting intelligently and looks to jab, kick, and counter his foe rather than recklessly swing.

A dangerous if inexperienced southpaw, St. Preux packs quite a bit of power behind every strike. His attacks can get pretty sloppy at times, but he's often able to get away with it due to his athleticism.

Though "OSP" has an 80-inch reach, his boxing does not utilize it very well. For the most part, he just shoots out a few hard, spearing jabs and does not build off the strike.

St. Preux heavily relies on his left hand, throwing his power hand from long range either straight or with an arc. St. Preux certainly covers a fair bit of distance and can land with power, but it's hardly technical boxing. After the left, "OSP" will add a right hook and possibly another left. Though he may continue alternating punches for a bit, his combinations rarely get any more complicated.

The best tool in St. Preux's arsenal is his left roundhouse kick to the head and body. This technique takes advantage of both his length and power without needing too much of a set up, making it perfect for St. Preux. "OSP" throws the kick with serious power, which he demonstrated by breaking Ryan Jimmo's arm on a blocked kick.


Though Rua rarely turns to his wrestling, he is capable. It's rarely pretty, but "Shogun" manages to get most of his opponents to the mat when he's tired or facing a dangerous striker.

Rua's best takedowns come from the clinch. He frequently looks for the outside trip after securing a body lock. Additionally, Rua will change levels and latch onto his opponent's hips and drag him to the mat in a sort of double leg/double underhook hybrid.

Finally, Rua frequently attempts double legs when he's tired. If he can get his opponent's back to the fence, Rua actually has decent success with double, despite commonly wrestling from his knees.

St. Preux was a fairly successful wrestler in high school and frequently uses his strength advantage to get fights to the mat. Like the rest of his game, it's not particularly technical, but St. Preux's athleticism makes it work most of the time.

"OSP" likes to shoot double legs in the center of the cage, despite not setting up the shot particularly well. Still, he absolutely runs through the shot, like a hybrid of a football takedown and double leg takedown.

In the clinch, St. Preux is often able to manhandle his opponent. Though Ryan Bader turned that around on him quickly, most of St. Preux's opponents end up getting manipulated to the mat by St. Preux's lengthy arms.

Both men are less than stellar defensive wrestlers. In fact, I'd expect the fighter that consistently earns top position to be whoever shoots for the takedown first.

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ)

Between the two, Rua is the only one to really showcase a serious jiu-jitsu game. St. Preux has managed to pass some guards and land a Von Flue choke, but it's largely been reliant on his athleticism or due to his opponent's awful grappling.

On the other hand, Rua is an expert from his variation on the deep half guard. While tying up the far leg with his own legs, Rua reaches to the near leg and underhooks it. From there, he pulls the leg toward his face, forcing his opponent to balance between the two legs. In this position, he can elevate his opponent's other leg, which gives him a number of options.

For example, Rua will often look to escape out the back door. When his opponent shifts his weight to prevent a sweep, Rua will switch the direction he is rolling and attempt to slip out. If his opponent is not quick to scramble, then Rua can get the back.

Occasionally, Rua will look for a leg lock. When Rua extends his legs to widen his opponent's stance, he'll often throw his outside leg over the top of his opponent's thigh. This is known as reaping the knee and is the start of many submission options. It lead to his sole submission victory, which took place way back in 2006 at the expense of Kevin Randleman.

More often than not, Rua will attempt to use this position to stand back up. After securing an underhook, Rua will sit up into the butterfly guard or a less deep half guard. From either position, Rua will dig into the underhook and look to work his way back to his feet.

The problem with this is that Rua is far too aggressive with the stand up and confident in the underhook. Against both Renato Sobral and Chael Sonnen, Rua left his neck out as he stood then paid the price in the form of a guillotine choke.

Best chance for success

As mentioned, Rua simply needs to fight intelligently. If he goes out and attempts to work a technical Thai boxing game plan, there's no reason he can't piece up the sloppy "OSP." If, however, he gets tired early and fights sloppy, there's every chance he could give up easy takedowns.

Though Rua should always be using his low kicks, they'll be especially important against St. Preux. Rua does not want to absorb a large number of kicks from the massive southpaw, so landing a good amount of inside low kicks would help take some of the power off those kicks and slow down his opponent.

On the other hand, St. Preux has to overwhelm Rua with his wrestling and physicality. It doesn't really matter how old "Shogun" is, attempting to brawl with him is a terrible idea, and St. Preux does not have the technical prowess to consistently out-strike him.

Instead, St. Preux should latch onto the clinch and wear on the Brazilian. Not only is this safer, but it will likely lead to eventual takedowns. Plus, St. Preux is no conditioning savant, so maintaining top position would be an excellent way to rest while forcing his opponent to work.

Will Rua prove that he's still a top fighter, or will St. Preux show that he's deserving of his top-10 ranking?

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