One of the prominent features of the relationship between two brothers growing up together is the constant trash talk and physical battles that ensue, especially if they are close in age. But the trust and love that coincide with the battles is referred to as the unbreakable bond of brotherhood.  The bond between two brothers is very much different than the bond between sisters.  The competition can be fierce and physical, but there is always an unspoken love that transcends all else.

However, what happens when brothers come to a point at which they need to go their separate ways?  This doesn’t mean that they no longer have love and respect for each other, but regardless of the unbreakable bond of brotherhood, every individual has his own path in life.

In the case of Mauricio and Murilo Rua, that time has come.  Or, has it?

UFC and Pride legend Mauricio “Shogun” Rua and his older brother, Pride veteran Murilo “Ninja” Rua, have had the rare fortune of taking on careers in professional competition.  The best part is that they’ve had the privilege to train together for most of their professional careers, but in the last year, their paths have started to veer away from each other.

The Rua brothers began their careers at the famous Chute Boxe Academy in their hometown of Curitiba, Brazil.  Chute Boxe is a world-renowned  gym, known for producing some of the best fighters in the world, including former Pride and UFC champions.

Ninja first competed in professional MMA in May 2000 at Meca World Vale Tudo 1 in Curitiba.  He had early success, opening his career with a 5-0-1 record, after which he joined Pride in 2001. His career wasn’t as successful after joining Pride, as he went 15-12 between his first Pride fight and his last fight at BAMMA 6 in May 2011. The highlight of Ninja’s career was probably in 2007, when he captured the EliteXC middleweight championship, his first and only title, which he subsequently lost three months later.

His brother’s career took a slightly different path.

Shogun’s first professional fight was at Meca World Vale Tudo 7 in November 2002, also in Curitiba.  He opened his career with a 4-1 record before moving to Pride, where he had great success, rolling through eight world-class fighters on his way to winning the 2005 Pride Middleweight Grand Prix.  After five more fights in Pride, Shogun moved to the UFC, losing his debut to Forrest Griffin. Shogun’s loss to Griffin was partially attributed to his poor cardio conditioning, but that was a result of poor training due to a knee injury.  He further injured his knee during the fight and had to take some time off from competition to get it repaired.

During Shogun’s time off in 2008, Ninja took two fights in EliteXC—one win and one loss.  When Shogun came back on the scene in 2009, he beat Mark Coleman and Chuck Liddell before getting his first title shot against Lyoto Machida.  Machida won a controversial decision, but six and a half months later, Mauricio got another shot at Machida and won the UFC light heavyweight title, a pinnacle of his career.

In 2008, during Shogun’s healing period, he and his brother left Chute Boxe and opened Universidade da Luta (UDL), also in Curitiba, with fellow Chute Boxe fighters, and brothers, Mauricio “Veio” Amade and Andre “Dida” Amade.

The Amade brothers are younger than the Rua brothers and have not nearly had the same success in MMA, but, for some reason, became trainers for the Rua’s.  Dida had been training Shogun directly, including his training for his recent “Fight of the Year” contest with Dan Henderson at UFC 139 last November.

Many critics felt that Shogun should have fought better, especially considering that his only loss in the previous year was to the enigma that is Jon Jones.  One of the biggest critics was his brother, Murilo, and rightfully so.

Ninja began to voice his opinion to his camp regarding his brother’s training.  But what good brother, who has been by his side at every fight of his career, wouldn’t say something?

Ninja felt that Dida had been doing a poor job of cornering Mauricio, and that his training was not sufficient in cardio conditioning.  While Shogun did go an entire five rounds with Henderson, Ninja knew his brother’s camp was sub-par.

Leading into Shogun’s last fight against Brandon Vera at UFC on Fox 4, Dida removed Murilo from Mauricio’s camp, and Ninja gladly left to train elsewhere.  In an almost bittersweet performance, Shogun did not look great against Vera. Granted, he won the fight with a fourth-round TKO, but he did not look like the same Shogun that went the distance with Henderson only eight and a half months prior.  By the end of the second round, Rua was winded and his cardio weakness showed.

Immediately following the fight, the world of social media blew up with questions about Ninja’s absence for his brother’s corner.  Murilo basically stated that he and Dida didn’t agree on Mauricio’s training and went separate ways, leaving his brother’s camp.

Was this a good decision?  It most certainly was not.

Even though brothers sometimes go their separate ways in life, there are some cases where they need to stick together, and this is one of them. Nobody out there knows what his little brother needs out of his training camp more than Ninja, and Dida needs to understand that.  The Shogun that won the title would have destroyed Vera much quicker than the one that fought Vera this year.

Shogun’s striking is still world-class, but his cardio is quite poor.  There is no reason that he should have been so winded by the end of the second round, especially for a Muay Thai artist.  Murilo knew where his brother needed help, and Amade didn’t want to listen.

At this point in their careers, if the UDL camp is not doing for them what they need, the Rua brothers need to surround themselves with better training.  When true champion fighters need help, they surround themselves with the best of the best.

Every camp needs good coaches for all areas of fighting, including strength and conditioning.  If conditioning is weak, which was obvious in Shogun’s last fight, then Amade needs to recognize that and bring in a better conditioning coach.  Imagine Rua with five rounds of sustained fury bottled up.  That’s a Shogun that could make another run at the title.  The August 2012 Rua was not quite there.

When it comes down to it, there is nothing more powerful than brotherly intuition, and the Rua brothers have spent their entire professional careers training together, which amounted to a few titles.  There is no reason Ninja should not be training with his brother, and until that gets corrected, the best Shogun will not be seen again.  Hopefully, it’s sooner rather than later, because neither of them is getting any younger.

Photo: Mauricio “Shogun” Rua (Esther Lin/MMA Fighting)