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Days after officially giving up his spot in the UFC Fight Night 117 headliner in Japan, Mauricio Rua revealed just how hard he tried to keep it.

The UFC’s former 205-pound champion was slated to meet Ovince Saint Preux at Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan, near Tokyo, on Friday. As someone who made a name for himself in the now-defunct PRIDE, there was certainly some special meaning behind what was set to be Rua’s first fight on Japanese soil in more than a decade.

However, during Saturday’s UFC Fight Night 116 broadcast, an initial report by The MMA Kings was confirmed: An injury had sidelined Rua (25-10 MMA, 9-8 UFC), who was replaced by former UFC middleweight title challenger Yushin Okami (34-10 MMA, 13-5 UFC) against Saint Preux (20-10 MMA, 8-5 UFC).

Today, Rua explained he suffered a knee injury early in his camp, but still tried to push through with the assistance of “medicine, protection in his knee, ice and physical therapy.” Coming to terms with the fact he’d run out of options, the ex-champ said before apologizing to his fans and opponents, was not easy.

“I went beyond my limit because fighting in Japan again is something I’d been dreaming of for a long time,” Rua said on Instagram. “Because I didn’t want to let the fans down, and because that’s how I was raised in martial arts by my master.

“I’ve stepped up to fight injured multiple times in my career, and it wasn’t for lack of effort or trying. But, unfortunately, all this effort ended up making the injuries worse, and there came a time when my team and I had to accept there were no alternatives. And I had to pull out of the fight.”

Lutar tem sido a minha vida há mais de 15 anos. É o que eu escolhi pra mim e o que amo fazer. Pra mim é muito difícil ter que sair de uma luta, muito mesmo, e aceitar que isso era a única alternativa viável não foi nada fácil. Infelizmente, ainda no começo desse Camp, machuquei meu joelho. Passei todo meu Camp fazendo tudo que estava ao meu alcance pra poder lutar no dia 23 de Setembro (22 no Brasil), e treinei o tempo todo na base de remédios, proteção no joelho, gelo e fisioterapia. Fui além do limite porque voltar a lutar no Japão é algo que eu sonhava há muito tempo, porque não queria decepcionar os fãs, e porque fui criado assim nas artes marciais pelo meu mestre. Já subi pra lutar lesionado diversas vezes na carreira, e não faltou esforço e tentativa. Mas Infelizmente todo o esforço só acabou por agravar as lesões, e chegou um momento em que a minha equipe e eu tivemos que aceitar que não haviam mais alternativas, e tive que sair da luta. Não foi fácil. Quero pedir desculpas ao meu adversário, já estive na mesma situação inclusive quando nos enfrentamos a primeira vez, e sei que nunca é fácil, e principalmente pedir desculpas ao público, especialmente a todos aqueles que estavam ansiosos aguardando essa luta. Vou cuidar da minha recuperação agora, curar minhas lesões e voltar mais forte. Os desafios são colocados na nossa frente todos os dias, e o que realmente importa é como a gente os enfrenta. Obrigado pelo carinho de todos. Fighting has been my life for more than 15 years. It's what I have chosen for myself, and what I love to do. For me it's really hard to have to step out of a fight, really difficult, and to accept that this was the only viable alternative wasn't easy at all. Unfortunately, still early in this camp, I injured my knee. I spent all Camp doing all within my reach to be able to fight on September 23rd, trained the whole time under medication, protection in my knee, ice and physical therapy. I went beyond my limit because fighting in Japan again is something I have been dreaming about for a long time, because I didn't want to disappoint the fans, and because I was raised this way in martial arts by my master. I already stepped up to fig

A post shared by Shogun Rua (@shogunoficial) on

The UFC Fight Night 117 meeting was supposed to serve as a rematch for a UFC Fight Night 56 headliner in 2014 – which saw “Shogun” shockingly knocked out in a mere 34 seconds in front of his Brazilian fans. Saint Preux was serving as a last-minute replacement then, for the injured Jimi Manuwa.

Rua has since recovered, and currently rides a streak of three straight wins over Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, Corey Anderson and Gian Villante. Saint Preux, in turn, has since fought another seven octagon opponents, with a mixed 3-4 recent record.  Replacement Okami goes to 205 pounds after a recent 4-1 stint as a welterweight.

Read Rua’s full statement below:

Fighting has been my life for over 15 years. It’s what I chose for myself and what I love to do. For me it’s very hard to pull out of a fight, very hard, and accepting that was the only viable alternative wasn’t easy at all. Unfortunately, early in this camp, I hurt my knee. I spent the entire camp doing everything in my power so I could fight on September 23 (22 in Brazil), and I trained the entire time under medicine, protection in my knee, ice and physical therapy. I went beyond my limit because fighting in Japan again is something I’d been dreaming of for a long time, because I didn’t want to let the fans down, and because that’s how I was raised in martial arts by my master

I’ve stepped up to fight injured multiple times in my career, and it wasn’t for lack of effort or trying. But, unfortunately, all this effort ended up making the injuries worse, and there came a time when my team and I had to accept there were no alternatives, and I had to pull out of the fight. It wasn’t easy. I’d like to apologize to my opponent I’ve been in the same situation, including when we fought the first time, and I knew it’s never easy. And, mainly, apologize to the fans, especially those who were anxiously awaiting this fight. I will take care of my recovery now, heal my injuries and come back stronger. Challenges are put in front of us every day, and what really matters is how we face them. Thank you all for the kindness.

UFC Fight Night 117 takes place Friday at Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan, near Tokyo. It airs on FXX following an early prelim on UFC Fight Pass.

For more on UFC Fight Night 117, visit the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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