Mauricio Shogun Rua and Antonio Rogerio Nogueira need no introduction to older fans of the UFC. Both of these men are Pride FC legends, Pride being the organisation in Japan who competed with the UFC until it was brought out in the mid 2000’s.
Famed for being brutal and allowing the soccer kicks and knees to the head of a downed opponent. Pride fighters gained an almost cult-like following when they made their way over to the UFC and few were as successful as Shogun Rua.
Mauricio Shogun Rua
Shogun made his name when he won the Pride GP tournament in 2005, where he beat Alistair Overeem and Ricardo Arona on the same night. On the way to the finals he devastated Quentin Rampage Jackson, he became known for leaping in the air and landing with a stomp on his opponents head.
Shogun then went on to come over to the UFC when Pride was bought out in 2007, he faced the fearsome Light Heavyweight Chuck ‘the iceman’ Liddell. Now this was when Chuck was in his prime, and when he knocked him out with that left hook everyone took notice.
In May 2010 Shogun managed to avenge his first loss against Lyoto Machida and captured the light heavyweight UFC title while he was there. Technically speaking if you take Jon Jones being stripped of the belt, nobody has won the light heavyweight title since from the reigning champion, that’s a scary thought.
There is no disputing that Shogun Rua is a legend of the sport, and it is really good to see him still competing. Actually his recent record isn’t bad, he stopped the hype train of Tyson Pedro, and has only been defeated once in his last 6 outings, that’s not bad for someone who is 38 and has been fighting since 2002.
Antonio Rogerio Nogueira
Standing across from Shogun this weekend will be Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, or ‘Lil Nog’ as he is known. Lil Nog comes from the fact that he is the twin brother of former UFC Heavyweight Champion Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira. The two always competed at different weight classes even though they were identical as they never wanted to fight each other.
Another Pride FC legend Nogueira has strung together some impressive wins of his own throughout his Pride and UFC tenures. He submitted Dan Henderson, viciously elbowed Tito Ortiz and generally had a reputation for going toe to toe with anyone. Usually he likes to box however Nogueira Jiu Jitsu is legendary and if it goes to ground anyone on the planet is having a bad day.
Nogueira never really found his groove in the UFC the same way that Shogun did however he is always a name that will draw the attention of old school fans like myself.
On paper this one should be another win for Shogun Rua, he has beaten Nogueira twice before and generally speaking Chael Sonnen’s theory of the younger fighter winning the rematch usually holds up. Then again this is the UFC and anything can and often does happen.
With that being said this match up is not about who wins, this matchup is about taking a look back at two of the pioneers of this very young sport. These guys were laying the foundation, long before Conor or Rousey, it was men like these two that laid the foundation for what MMA was to become.
This fight is going to take people back to a time where MMA was a wild frontier, nobody really knew where it was going. Over in Japan they allowed head stomps and in the UFC you had these terrifying guys fighting in a cage.
Fans of each brand would debate over who was better, which organisation had the better rule set and the better competitors. All those questions were answered in time and the sport has evolved into a more legitimate if slightly less edgy sport.
The original UFC and Pride fighters are reminiscent of the settlers of the American West. Rather than strapping a revolver to their hip they put on their gloves (or not in some cases) and just explored the world of MMA to see what was out there. Real fighters, guys who would be doing nothing else.
We have two of the original cage fighters stepping into the octagon, maybe for the last time. Guys like Shogun and Nogueira are a dying breed, but we get to see them, just once more, before the dust settles and we realise that the rare breed of fighters that used to roam MMA are all but gone.