Former UFC champion and PRIDE legend Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua believes he deserves a title shot with a win over former title challenger Volkan Oezdemir. The #7 ranked contender is scheduled to face Oezdemir in UFC’s first fight card in Chile on May 19. Giving his thoughts on the marquee Light Heavyweight contest, Shogun said,
” I think Volkan is a great fighter, the No. 2 in the ranking, but I like challenges, it’s going to be a big challenge for me, and I think it’s an interesting fight for the fans.”
Shogun was also impressed with Volkan’s meteoric rise in the UFC, which led him to a title shot within a span of one year. “In a short time in the UFC, he was a phenom, easily beating Jimi Manuwa and Misha Cirkunov, who are good fighters, and that earned him a shot at the belt,” Rua said. “He has evolved a lot since he joined the UFC. I know he’s a really tough guy.”
Shogun on his strategy in the fight
“Muay Thai is my background, but I fight MMA. If I need to take him down to go on an easier path, I will do that. I know that Volkan has a good striking, but he also has a good wrestling, a good takedown defense, and sometimes you wear yourself out trying to take someone down. I will work hard on my Muay Thai, Jiu-Jitsu and wrestling, and I hope I can impose my strategy and come out victorious.”
On his legendary career and criticisms from fans
Since losing the title to Jon Jones in devastating fashion in 2011, Shogun has many times been considered as a fighter who was on his way out but a recent 3 fight win streak in the Light Heavyweight division has placed him closer than ever to another title shot.
”People still ask me to retire today. I’m on a three-fight winning streak and people say ‘why this guy hasn’t stopped yet?’ So what should the guys that I beat do? Kill themselves? If I won and have to retire, imagine what they would say to those who lost.
”People are too critical sometimes. I think many people are fans of the result, not of the human being. People have to be more rational and understand more about the sport. But that doesn’t affect me. I’m an experienced fighter.
”The sport has changed a lot since 2011 in Brazil, we have more attention and more criticism now, people saying a bunch of things. That doesn’t affect me anymore. I’m going after my dream of doing what I love, which is fighting.”
Shogun also believes that his experience and name value more than qualify him for a title shot,
”Everybody knows my career, knows that I was a champion in PRIDE and in the UFC. I’ve been fighting the world’s best fighters since 2005, so if I win this fight I will deserve to fight for the belt — for my history, being a former champion, and for fighting someone like Oezdemir, the No. 2 in the ranking.”
Shogun isn’t looking past Volkan yet
Even with a title opportunity on the horizon, Shogun has his sight set firmly on his next opponent.
”I don’t think about that yet,” Rua said with a laugh. “If I have a chance to fight for the belt I will definitely envision that moment, but right now I can only envision my victory over Oezdemir. It would obviously be a big dream to reconquer the UFC belt.”