Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Light Heavyweight knockout artists Mauricio “Shogun” Rua and Gian Villante will collide this Saturday (March 11, 2017) at UFC Fight Night 106 inside Centro de Formacao Olimpica do Nordeste in Fortaleza, Brazil.
For the first time since 2009, “Shogun” has put together two straight victories. It’s hard to proclaim PRIDE NEVER DIE! just yet, but Rua has genuinely looked sharper than before in recent performances. Meanwhile, Villante’s technical kickboxing has improved considerably in the last couple years. While Villante is definitely heading in the right direction, that hasn’t completely solved his problem with putting together consistent wins.
Let’s take a closer look at the keys to victory for each man:
Key Wins: Corey Anderson (UFC 198), James Te Huna (UFC Fight Night 38), Lyoto Machida (UFC 113), Forrest Griffin (UFC 134)
Key Losses: Dan Henderson (UFC Fight Night 38), Ovince St. Preux (UFC Fight Night 56), Jon Jones (UFC 128)
Keys to Victory: Rua has been knocking out fools since the early 2000s. The Muay Thai kickboxer has never been the greatest defensive grappler, but he’s always been good enough to keep things on the feet enough to do serious damage.
In this match up, Rua has a real path to victory if he can avoid the takedown. Villante is the larger man and a skilled striker, but he also has a habit of walking into huge punches. Against a man with the killer instinct of Rua, that’s a really bad flaw.
In general, Villante has a problem with overextending, meaning he reaches when on offense. To draw that problem, Rua should look to maintain distance, where his renewed focus on kicking should allow him to damage his opponent effectively. Villante is a decent kicker, but that’s not an area where he wants to trade with Rua. Instead, Villante will look to move into the pocket to punch or wrestle, which is when Rua can catch him in a poor position.
Key Wins: Corey Anderson (UFC on FOX 15), Anthony Perosh (UFC 193), Sean O'Connell (UFC Fight Night 43)
Key Losses: Tom Lawlor (UFC on FOX 16), Ilir Latifi (UFC 196), Ovince St. Preux (UFC 159)
Keys to Victory: A Serra-Longo representative, Villante is a stud athlete with a solid mix of skills. While his game sometimes is a bit less than the sum of its part, the potential for Villante to become a true contender still exists.
In this match up, Villante has a number of advantages. Not only is he the bigger fighter, but Villante is the younger and more durable fighter. With 10 knockout wins to his name, it’s also hard to argue that Rua has a major power advantage. Lastly, Rua’s durability has greatly declined, whereas Villante has only been knocked out once in the last six years.
In a brawl, it’s more likely that Villante will come out on top.
Still, brawling with “Shogun” is hardly the ideal gameplan for any man. Instead, Villante should look to push his wrestling advantage early. If he can tire out Rua, he will have a much easier time of finding his foe’s chin.
Bottom Line: The winner of this bout is actually surprisingly close to the title mix.
Somehow, “Shogun” is currently ranked No. 6 in his division. If he’s able to extend his win streak to three opposite another ranked opponent, it’s hard to deny Rua a chance to keep stepping up in competition. On the other hand, a loss will knock Rua a few places down in the rankings. That said, it hardly matters at this point where in the rankings Rua resides, as his time as a title contender definitely appears to be over regardless of this fight.
This is a much more pivotal fight for Villante. Despite his four years of experience in the Octagon, Villante is without a real signature victory. If he’s able to knockout Rua in the co-main event, that would go a long way in pushing Villante towards the division’s elite. If Villante comes up short once again and loses his momentum, it becomes even harder to see him break through to the highest level.
At UFC Fight Night 106, Mauricio Rua and Gian Villante will brawl in the co-main event. Which man will remain standing when the dust settles?