A battle scarred soldier left the field to a somber tune, having failed at his given assignment: in front of thousands of fans from his home country. The legendary Mauricio “Shogun” Rua fell to Ovince St. Preux in stunning fashion, caught with a punch, dropped, and TKO’d in just over thirty seconds Saturday night at UFC Fight Night 56. It silenced the Brazilian crowd instantly. It took most of us by surprise. Even those who had picked OSP to win — and there were many, despite the talented light heavyweight being a last minute replacement — did not expect an ending so swift and violent.

With the loss, once again, come the questions: is it time for an “old” soldier to hang up the gloves? Is it time for Mauricio Rua to march gracefully into retirement, rather than go out on his shield?

Rua is old school, a legend of the Pride era, and unlike many of his compatriots in that promotion, he did find some initial success in the UFC, being crowned light heavyweight champion in the second of a pair of fantastic fights with Lyoto Machida. After dispatching the Dragon, however, enter Bones: Jon Jones arrived and changed the face of the division. Suddenly, Rua was a fallen hero struggling to maintain his place in a division that was quickly passing him by.

Since 2011, Shogun’s only wins have come over Forrest Griffin, Brandon Vera, and James Te Huna. He has found himself bested by Dan Henderson twice, though the first of those fights can be considered one of the greatest MMA bouts of all time. He has also dropped fights to Alexander Gustafsson, Chael Sonnen, and now St. Preux — and has but one win in his last five.

The former champ says he is going to “get through this loss” and “think about the future” according to his post-fight interview. Where does he go from here?

The Options:

Really, Shogun has limited options. Like Michael Bisping, a fellow loser from this past weekend, he’s clearly out of the title picture. Worse, though younger than Bisping at thirty-two, Rua has far, far more mileage on him from some absolutely brutal wars in Pride and the UFC. The Henderson fight alone is the type that takes years off your lifespan.

Lyoto Machida dropped down to middleweight recently, and that’s one out for Rua. It’s a possibility that the fighter discussed earlier in 2014, and at this point, it’s probably his best chance if he wants to make another run at a title in the UFC. There are winnable fights for Rua at middleweight, and a potential third match with Machida could also make for an interesting main event, even if it’s of the “a little too late” variety.

The other option, were Shogun to stay active, is taking spectacle fights at 205 and hoping for some sort of turnaround, or winding up as a gatekeeper — not a good role for a former champion.

Then, of course, there’s retirement. It’s on the table, it has to be. With thirty-two professional fights, one for every year of his life, and twenty-two wins, Shogun has nothing left to prove, and is already a legend. However, at his age, he may feel it’s too soon, despite the damage, and fighters are notorious for sticking around too long, looking for that one last win.

His immediate future, mind you, is set: Shogun will appear opposite Anderson Silva on the next edition of The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil. That, however, has no impact on his fighting career, as there is no coach’s fight following the season.

It does, however, give Shogun time to reflect, a much necessary undertaking on his part at this point.

About The Author

Senior Staff Writer

Covering the sport of MMA from Ontario, Canada, Jay Anderson has been writing for various publications covering sports, technology, and pop culture since 2001. Jay holds an Honours Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the University of Guelph, and a Certificate in Leadership Skills from Humber College under the Ontario Management Development Program. When not slaving at the keyboard, he can be found in the company of his dog, a good book, or getting lost in the woods.