Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua may be the current light-heavyweight champion, and a fighter with far more experience than his next opponent Jon ‘Bones’ Jones, but yet many have him down as the underdog in the lead-up to their fight at UFC 128 on March 19th.
Those who know the Brazilian star well appear a little perturbed by that fact.
Take Antonio Rogerio Nogueira for example, who knows his capabilities better than most having lost by decision to him in one of the most memorable fights of the PRIDE era.
“It’ll be a pretty tough fight, there’re no doubts,” Lil Nog tells TATAME. “Jon Jones is the guy now, people are creating great expectations about him, but I particularly disagree. In my opinion, Shogun has a sharper boxing than Jones, and he has got more game.”
“Jon Jones is talented, has a great reach, but he hasn’t confronted a guy like Shogun. I believe Shogun will win this one, I’d bet on him, because I believe he has got more game than Jones. But every fight is unique, right?”
Meanwhile Shogun’s older brother Murilo ‘Ninja’ Rua is downplaying some of the hype surrounding Jones, stating his belief that his sibling has fought tougher opponents in his 23 fight career to date.
“Jon Jones is a respectful athlete, he’s young, but my brother is the favorite for the experience he has, he’s fought tougher guys than Jones,” Ninja said in an interview with TATAME. “My brother has proven it, and he’ll win. The guy wants it bad, he has nothing to lose, but the experience can be the differential. He’s one of the toughest fighters on MMA currently, he’s tall and has a great conditioning, he’s rising, so it must be a hell of a good fight. But he’ll get hurt when my brother’s punches finds his face. Jon Jones ain’t Mauricio’s greatest challenge. My brother had had great ones, and it’ll be another fight on his career.”
There’s no doubt Shogun has fought and won against a who’s-who of the 205lb division over the years, from the aforementioned Lil Nog to Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson, Alistair Overeem, Ricardo Arona, Chuck Liddell and most recently the previously undefeated Lyoto Machida.
All great fighters, but Jones does bring something new to the table that Shogun hasn’t faced before, with the 23 year-old having an abnormally long reach, unorthadox striking and some of the best utilization of throws from the clinch ever seen in the sport.
That’s what makes this fight so intriguing, and as a result opinions regarding who is going to win are likely to be spread across the board as fight night draws ever closer.