Mauricio "Shogun" Rua
(Pictures) started 2008 in a new
The fighter left Chute Boxe and, along with three former Chute Boxe
teammates, created the Universidade da Luta. With the structure of
his new team almost set, Rua spoke with Sherdog.com about his plans
for the year ahead, which includes a showdown against former UFC
light heavyweight champion Chuck Liddell (Pictures).
What did you think
about Chuck Liddell
(Pictures) as your next opponent?
I think that was a great
choice. Liddell is a great fighter and it's a good fight for me
because he is a very famous guy in America. Liddell is a tough guy,
hard to defeat, but I think that there are no easy fights in my
weight division. I'll go straight up over him and I'll give a great
show to my fans.
You were going to fight before
in an earlier UFC event, but the schedule was changed for you to
face Liddell. The UFC asked you to fight in this event to face
Liddell and due to this you'll fight in June?
That was it. Before I was
scheduled to fight in April, but suddenly they called me to offer
this fight and I was like "nice, very happy with that!"
Liddell is one of the top
fighters in the weight division, a very respected former champion.
Do you believe that a victory over him will put you back at the top
of the ranking and you'll be able to fight for the UFC belt?
I'm sure of that. A victory over
him will give me an "upgrade," but I'm not thinking about the belt
-- I'm thinking of Liddell. He is a complete fighter, very tough
and on top of the category. He deserves a lot of respect. So, I
don't have to think about the belt before this fight against him.
I'm thinking of him as a tough opponent that will be in my way, not
You started 2008 creating a new
team. What are your plans for this year?
In 2008 my goal is to train even
more. Now I'm establishing my team along with my brother Murilo Rua (Pictures), Andre Dida and Mauricio Veio. I'm working on my
cardio with Alejo Morales in the afternoon, and I train Muay Thai
and BJJ at night.
Tell us about your new team's
We are a close partnership with
me, my brother, Veio and Dida, along with Hercilio, a businessman
who will invest in our gym and manage the athletes. For sure it
will be a perfect partnership because we will have great athletes.
I just want to train more and more. I'm actually not worried about
the organization because this is Hercilio's job. My only concern is
Are there other known fighters
in addition to you four?
We have a lot of fighters, but we
will only announce their names after the opening, which I'm
expecting to be right after Carnival. Our gym will have the largest
mat in Brazil.
Who will be the coaches?
The physical conditioning is under
Alejo Morales. We worked with him before, and for sure he is a top
professional here in Brazil. Muay Thai will be taught by Mauricio Veio, a great
professional in this area. About the BJJ, we are discussing who
will be the coach. We will look for a very qualified person in this
area; this is the only thing missing at our gym.
Are you worried about losing the
quality of your training and sparring, because now you don't have
all of the people you used to train with at Chute Boxe?
Well, I've been back to training
only for a few weeks, but I'm training more than ever. I'm working
a lot on cardio and jiu-jitsu. In Muay Thai we have 15 athletes,
and the training is as good as was at Chute Boxe. I can guarantee
Wanderlei Silva (Pictures) also left Chute Boxe last year.
How is your relationship with him?
Wanderlei is a good friend of
mine. He was here in Curitiba and called me. We talked for a while,
and the doors of our team will always be open to him. Like he said,
that his gym's doors will be open for us.
What do you think about his
fight against Chuck
I talked to him about that fight,
and we have the same opinion: He trained a lot, but he didn't have
much sparring. I think this fact warmed him a lot.
And how about your brother? What
does Murilo Rua (Pictures) have ahead for him in 2008?
He will fight in March, probably
for Cage Rage's title. For sure he will bring this belt to us, if
God wishes. My brother is in his prime, and soon he will be among
2008 must bring a lot of new
things to your career. What can your fans expect this year?
I want to say to my fans to be
calm, keep believing and supporting me. I live for the fight. I'm
100 percent focused on fighting. I wouldn't leave Chute Boxe
without having a structure like I have. So I want my fans to keep
supporting me, sending me good thoughts. Because for sure my
greatest motivation to fight is my fans, to pay them back all the
affection they give me.