Mauricio Rua went on a historic tear in 2005. | Photo: D. Mandel/Sherdog.com
With tournaments fading out of prominence in MMA, there may never again be a draw so deep with talent as the 2005 Pride Fighting Championships middleweight grand prix. Wanderlei Silva, Dan Henderson, Quinton Jackson, Alistair Overeem, Vitor Belfort, Kazushi Sakuraba, Igor Vovchanchyn, Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, Kevin Randleman, Hidehiko Yoshida and Ricardo Arona were all entered into the same 16-man field. Rua did not just win that tournament; he ran through it. With quick knockouts of Arona, Overeem and Jackson, plus a decision win over Nogueira, “Shogun” completed the most impressive year in MMA history. The man at his best was a devastating force of nature. Even after serious injuries severely limited his effectiveness, he remained a dangerous fighter who could stop what had seemed an unstoppable force in Lyoto Machida and capture UFC light heavyweight gold.
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