With a decade of highlight-reel finishes under his belt, it seems impossible that Mauricio Rua today celebrates just his 32nd birthday. Next month, he meets James Te Huna, and “Shogun” plans to go toe-to-toe.
“He’s a very good boxer,” Rua told MMAjunkie through an interpreter. “I know him and his style. It’s a fight that fans will want to watch because there’s going to be a lot of striking.”
Rua, a former UFC light heavyweight champion, has struggled in recent outings, losing back-to-back fights for the first time in his career. In August, he headlined the UFC first-ever event to air on FOX Sports 1 and suffered a shocking first-round submission loss to Chael Sonnen.
“I’ve thought about it,” Rua said. “I made a mistake, and he capitalized on it. I lost the fight, but it was all his merit.”
But Rua won’t be sidelined long, as he was quickly booked for next month’s UFC Fight Night 33 event, where he’ll travel to Australia, home of fellow slugger James Te Huna. The two serve as the co-feature of the event, which takes place Dec. 7 at Brisbane Entertainment Centre and airs in North America one day prior due to the time difference.
Rua said he’s excited for the chance to put on a show Down Under.
“They offered, and I was up for it, so I took it,” Rua said. “The timing ended up working out perfect for me. I’m fighting in his home country, and it’s going to be an exciting fight.”
Rua has long been one of Brazil’s most popular fighters, with a fan-friendly style heavy on devastating strikes. He was featured in the UFC’s August 2011 return to Brazil, the company’s first event in the country in nearly 13 years. Surprisingly, though, he hasn’t fought in the country since.
Rua said he’s fine with the challenge of traveling to Australia but would appreciate a few opportunities to fight closer to home.
“I’ll do whatever the UFC asks me to do, but fighting in Brazil is better,” Rua said. “I don’t have a time difference and the food is the same.”
In many ways, the fight with Te Huna is a must-win for Rua, who is unquestionably a legend in the sport but has struggled to establish a consistent track record since coming from PRIDE to the UFC in 2007. Despite his relatively young age, there have been some calls for him to start considering what will come after his fighting career.
Rua isn’t ready for that just yet.
“I don’t think about it yet,” Rua said. “When I stop fighting, I’ll start thinking about it, but so far, I have not put any thought into this.”
Instead, he’ll focus on Te Huna, a fellow strike-first fighter who will likely be more than happy to stand and trade in the pocket. That probably sounds like a dream scenario for Rua, but a win may come easier on the floor.
Rua won’t tip his hand just yet, but he’s expecting a barnburner.
“I’m going to train every aspect of it so that I’m prepared for whatever happens,” Rua said.
For the latest on UFC Fight Night 33, stay tuned to the UFC Rumors section of the site.