One of the great anomalies of the recent UFC results is that Mauricio “Shogun” Rua is on a three fight win streak in the octagon.
Now people might think, well he’s a future UFC Hall of Famer so it’s not that crazy. But did you know it’s the first three-fight win streak in his UFC career? His last three-fight win streak came in Pride! from 2006-2007. That’s insane.
Sitting at No. 8 in the rankings, it’s actually possible for Shogun to be a fight or two away from a shot at UFC Light Heavyweight Champion (and UFC Heavyweight Champion) Daniel Cormier. Wildly on Ariel Helwani’s MMA Show, Cormier said he wants to defend the LH crown against Rua if he defeats Anthony Smith this Sunday in Germany at UFC Fight Night 134. (Smith is a late replacement for Volkan Oezdemir, who was moved to UFC 227 to fight Alexander Gustafsson.)
Clearly the new UFC owners value name over wins, which comes with pros and cons. Should a fighter win impressively, build a name for themselves, in the new era title shots will happen quickly. Win and put everyone watching at home to sleep, a fighter might be waiting awhile for that title shot.
No lines available at press time in Vegas.
From offshore it looks like Rua will be a -220 to -250 favorite over Smith.
First off let’s talk about Smith, since the majority of you already know Rua’s resume. Smith has, on paper, an unimpressive record at 29-13. However he has improved, winning three of his last four fights. With that in mind, he has not been able to beat a fighter that’s been on a roll like Shogun.
Smith can make Rua’s life difficult by using his three inch height advantage and firing away leg kicks. He has to be better defensively than he has been in the past with only a 46 percent strike defense. He is also susceptible to takedowns, only stopping 48 percent.
The key here is Rua (24-10), if he can keep up what has made him a force in the past, his aggression and success on both the standup and ground game this should make him a bigger favorite than Shogun is. He just has so much more high level experience and is on a nice second wind type win streak. His ability to change levels and keep Smith off balance leads him to a mid-round stoppage, say the 2nd or 3rd, and somehow earns him a dream title shot against DC later this year. RUA