Mauricio “Shogun” Rua has known for some time that the end of his career was approaching.
With 41 professional fights and nearly 21 years in the sport, the legendary Brazilian had been plotting this move, especially as he continued putting more and more miles on his body both inside the cage and during the countless hours spent in the gym. It all added up to tell “Shogun” the time was now — and that’s why he’s planned for his retirement after his upcoming bout against Ihor Poteiria at UFC 285.
“I have been suffering and dealing with some little pains from the injuries I have and those things, it really becomes a burden to be in training camp and live that life,” Rua revealed Wednesday on The MMA Hour. “Training camp, fight, training camp, fight. It’s not something I feel like my body holds up anymore and it becomes painful.
“I’m happy with everything I achieved, so I’m choosing the right time to stop, where I’m still competing and I’m doing it on my terms.”
Rua accomplished a lot during his career, including an iconic run in Pride Fighting Championships where he was the 2005 middleweight grand prix winner with memorable victories over names such as Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, Alistair Overeem, and Ricardo Arona.
His run with Pride came to an end after the UFC purchased the promotion in 2007.
Many of the fighters on the Pride roster eventually joined the UFC alongside him, however “Shogun” is actually the last man standing out of the group — the last Pride veteran still competing inside the octagon. While he’s got a laundry list of accomplishments already on his résumé, Rua admits that is one accolade that really does mean a lot to him.
“For me, I’m very proud of it,” Rua said. “It’s a big reason to be proud and a sense of accomplishment to be the last of those guys to still be competing [in the UFC].
“Even the UFC itself, I’ve been 16 years in the UFC pretty much and it really makes me proud and makes me feel blessed by God that I was able to have this long and successful career.”
Knowing that Saturday will be the last time he’ll make the walk to the cage and compete, “Shogun” said there are some unavoidable nerves, but he’s also filled with excitement.
“I’m anxious for the fight,” Rua explained. “I’m anxious about this fight, but at the same time, I feel fulfilled. I feel like I achieved everything I wanted in my career so I’m happy.
“It’s not a feeling of being blue. I’m happy because I’m retiring on my terms and I’m happy with everything I accomplished in my career. I’m just anxious with the fight, I want to get the fight as best as I can.”
When he made his professional debut in 2002, there was no guarantee that he would ever become a champion, much less a legend of the sport, so “Shogun” can’t help but marvel at everything he’s been able to accomplish.
His highlight reel stands up against anyone who’s ever competed in MMA, and Rua displayed the kind of career longevity most fighters will only dream about.
According to Rua, he never planned on any of that — he was just a kid who loved to fight.
“I would never believe it,” Rua said. “I would never think I would be able to have such a long career, let alone to conquer and to achieve everything that I conquered, that I achieved. I only started for love, for fun, because I liked it. So I never dreamed that I would have such a career.”
As far as what’s next, Rua anticipates some rest and relaxation, but he won’t stay away from the gym for too long. That said, it doesn’t appear he’ll miss the arduous and exhausting training camps that accompanied his fights.
More than anything, “Shogun” is just ready to move onto the next phase of his life, and that will almost certainly made it easier to call it a career after UFC 285 is finished.
“I’m going to train for fun, for health,” Rua said. “Just to be healthy, to have fun without all the pressure and I’m going to focus on my family, raising my daughters, taking care of my family and of my enterprises.
“I already have some enterprises so I’ll dedicate myself more to them and to my family and train just for fun to be in shape and to be healthy.”