Mauricio Rua’s aspirations are simple: he wants the UFC light heavyweight championship to once again adorn his waist.
“My main goal is to get back to belt -- to a title shot. I think a victory over [Chael] Sonnen is the first step,” Rua said during a press conference to promote his UFC Fight Night 26 appearance. “I’m really focused on this fight and getting back on track.”
“Shogun” will collide with Sonnen in Saturday night’s main event, which takes place at the TD Garden in Boston and airs live on Fox Sports 1. In Sonnen, Rua faces one of the UFC’s finest amateur wrestlers, though the Oregonian is perhaps even better known for his pro-wrestling style of self promotion.
While Sonnen has previously drawn the ire of his opponents for his unapologetic mic work, the former three-time UFC title challenger has spoken positively about his upcoming foe ahead of their bout, a fact that “Shogun” said has not come as a surprise.
“Sonnen always respected me since the beginning of my career,” said Rua. “Even if he started talking now, it wouldn’t change anything. My desire for victory would be same, and that wouldn’t change my mind. The only thing that bothers me is when he talks about my country and my friend Wanderlei [Silva]. I don’t try to get involved too much in that. I try to focus on my training.”
A former Pride Fighting Championships phenom turned UFC champion, Rua has struggled to find consistency during his Octagon tenure, alternating wins and losses in his last eight fights. Most recently, Rua was outpointed by Swedish prospect and current No. 1 contender Alexander Gustafsson, who bested “Shogun” this past December at UFC on Fox 5.
In spite of his 5-5 UFC record, however, Rua remains optimistic about his fighting future, chalking his inconsistency up to his high quality of competition.
“I think part of it is fighting best [competition] in world. I always face top guys,” said Rua. “I’m training to do my best there. I’m training for the victory. Today, I’m still doing everything I was able to do when I started. This sport has grown a lot, and I’m trying to follow the evolution of this sport as a fighter.”