Mauricio “Shogun” Rua has a firsthand source when it comes to his UFC 139 foe. | Photo: Dave Mandel
Mauricio Rua is not the first member of his family to square off with Dan Henderson.
At Pride 17 “Championship Chaos” in 2001, “Hendo” took a split decision from Murilo “Ninja” Rua, the brother of the former UFC light heavyweight champion. On Saturday, “Shogun” will have an opportunity to even the family record when he meets Henderson in the main event of UFC 139 at the HP Pavilion in San Jose, Calif.
Though his brother’s bout with Henderson took place more than 10 years ago, Shogun remains familiar with its details, hoping to draw valuable insight from the contest that may be applied in his own confrontation with the 15-year veteran. “Certainly, that was a great fight, and I have really good memories of it,” Shogun said during Wednesday’s UFC 139 conference call. “I watched it a number of times; it was a very competitive fight. My brother helped me a lot with my strategy against Dan. I hope to impose my rhythm and my game in this fight.”
Shogun, who lost the 205-pound belt to Jon Jones at UFC 128 on March 19, rebounded with a dominant showing in a first-round knockout of Forrest Griffin in August. While a win over Henderson, the former Strikeforce titleholder, could move Shogun right back into No. 1 contender’s status, the Brazilian is content to focus on the task at hand.
“I think certainly this is a marquee fight for me. Dan Henderson is a legend. He’s got a big history in this sport,” he said. “I’m not thinking about fighting for the belt and what will come next. My whole focus is on the fight with Dan Henderson.”
Shogun entered the UFC as one of the top-ranked light heavyweights in the world, and although he captured the 205-pound strap with a first-round knockout of Lyoto Machida at UFC 113, his time in the promotion has often been plagued by injuries. Knee surgeries have twice shelved the former Chute Boxe student for extended periods of time, but he says those ailments are a thing of the past.
“I think I’m 100 percent recovered from my injuries,” said Shogun, who also owns UFC victories over hall of famers Chuck Liddell and Mark Coleman. “For a fighter, it’s tough to stay sidelined for a year. I like to stay active and busy. Thank God I’m recovered, and hopefully I can stay active and keep fighting for a long time.”