Mid-2000s mixed martial arts (MMA) didn’t get much better than watching Mauricio “Shogun” Rua and Fedor Emelianenko fights.
During the PRIDE FC heyday in Japan, Rua and Emelianenko were two of the promotion’s most successful and popular stars. Consistent entertainers with their violent fighting styles, a match between the two would have had fans salivating. Believe it or not, it actually was possible despite the weight difference.
“Without a doubt, it was Aug. 28, 2005, the day I won the Pride Grand Prix,” Rua told Sherdog of his proudest career moment. “I entered as underdog and finished as champion in a tournament with 16 fighters, which was considered by many as the toughest Grand Prix ever.
“After I won the Light Heavyweight [Grand Prix] and he [Emelianenko] won the Heavyweight Grand Prix, the promoters started to talk about a ‘super’ fight, but it never happened,” he revealed. “Coincidentally I was probably closer to fighting my idol Wanderlei [Silva] before he lost to Ricardo Arona in the seminfinals]. But, It would have been an honor to fight Fedor when we both were in our primes. In my opinion, Fedor is among the three best pound-for-pound fighters ever.”
After PRIDE was purchased by Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) a few years later, the legends went their separate ways. Rua’s contract was absorbed and he eventually became UFC Light Heavyweight champion. Meanwhile, Emelianenko also wound up fighting stateside with the quickly-defunct Affliction before joining Strikeforce.
With 2023 right around the corner, both men are gearing up for their retirement bouts in the early months of the year. For Rua, he takes on a divisional prospect, Ihor Potieria, at UFC 283 on Jan. 21, 2023, in his Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, return.
“I’m studying a lot his fights,” Rua said of Potieria. “He is a southpaw and very aggressive. Of course, I have to be cautious, but my nature will always push me to try to win via knockout.”
Who would have won?
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Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 283 fight card right here, starting with the early ESPN+ “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard on ABC/ESPN+ at 8 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN+ PPV.
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