After claiming the light-heavyweight title in his rematch with Lyoto Machida, Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua was ecstatic, but later when the adrenalin wore off the fighter realized he had damaged his knee.

“When I defended the second takedown, [from Machida] my knee popped when I fell,” Shogun tells sherdog.com in a new interview. “I felt it pop, but I didn’t realize I was hurt until I was in the locker room.”

It was the same knee he had previously had trouble with, and it quickly became clear it required further surgery to correct the problem. Luckily it appears the damage was not as severe as he feared and the operation was successful.

“It was a ligament (ACL). The doctor told me it was a routine surgery with little mystery. Thank god I didn’t hurt my meniscus which can compromise an athlete’s career. The cartilage and the capsule surrounding the knee and everything is perfect,” says the relieved fighter.

Now Shogun is undergoing a lengthy period of rehab, but though early reports indicated he would be out until around March of 2011 the champion believes he could even be making his first title defense before the end of the year.

“I believe that I’ll fight in December or January,” he says.

If that proves to be the case then it’s good news for the UFC since current No.1 contender Rashad Evans is currently sitting on the sidelines while waiting for Shogun to return to full fitness. With the 205lb division being one of the promotion’s strongest weight-classes the quicker they can get the champ back in action the better.

Watch the full video interview with Shogun below.

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