UFC 97 Redemption
April 18th, 2009 7 PM
Mauricio Rua vs Chuck Liddell
UFC Betting Pick: Mauricio Rua (+165)
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UFC Light Heavyweight Fight: Mauricio “Shogun” Rua (+165) vs Chuck “The Iceman” Liddell (-205)
This is the perfect fight for Mauricio “Shogun” Rua (17-3). His UFC fights have all been disappointing . . .very very disappointing. He got beaten badly by Forrest Griffin at UFC 76: Knockout and it took 3 rounds before he was able to beat an aging Mark Coleman at UFC 93: Franklin vs. Henderson. He ran out of gas and Coleman was someone he should have beaten in earlier rounds. Shogun was the best light heavyweight in the world and was a top 3 pound for pound fighter just 4 years ago.
Lately, the old guard of mixed martial arts fighters is aging and getting beaten. The old Pride guys are no longer who they were. They are aging and not the fighters they once were, and are more punch drunk and too battleworn. Just look at Wanderlei Silva, Kazushi Sakuraba and Antônio Rodrigo Nogueira, who were once great but now are way past their prime. Fighting takes their toll on people and many of the old school fighters are nearing the end. Shogun is a Pride fighter but he is still young and he still has a lot of fight left in his career. At only 27 years old, Shogun can still fight once he is healthy again. So he won’t be like the old Pride guard. Now the question is if he is healthy enough and has the cardio to fight Chuck Liddell?
Shogun is bigger, younger, and faster than Chuck Liddell who may be past his prime. Though he has not been in many wars, he is getting older and his striking speed is not where it used to be. Chuck Liddell is a lot slower than he once was, and that was evident in his fight versus Rashad Evans at UFC 88: Breakthrough. Liddell was so much slower and Rashad was quicker. Liddell was also very slow versus Keith Jardine at UFC 76: Knockout. Liddell could not time his punches and was not able to check Jardine’s kicks.
That night he was one step slower than Jardine and that reflected in his ability in his punches but also in his ability to get away. His ability to not be as quick and get away from strikes is best exemplified in his fight with Quinton Rampage Jackson at UFC 71: Liddell vs. Jackson. The Iceman could not get out of Rampage’s shots – he was caught and knocked out badly. If you look at the Rampage versus Jardine fight at UFC 96: Jackson vs Jardine, both fighters were young and able to have a decent striking battle. That is the level and speed that MMA fighters are fighting with today. Chuck Liddell is not at speed anymore.
Is Shogun where he needs to be? His cardio may be in question but he still has the power and speed to knock out Chuck Liddell. Remember Shogun is a striker and has never been knocked out in his career. Liddell is just getting too old and slow to be able to knock him out. In the past Liddell has awkward punches and he caught fighters at weird angles due to his hand speed. Liddell does not have the hand speed he once had and his awkwardness is a liability now. Liddell is now wide open and those looping shots will not make contact like they once did.
Rua has compiled a professional record of 17 wins and 3 losses, with 14 wins by knockout and one by submission. Despite being a Brazilian jujitsu black, he prefers to stand up and so does Chuck Liddell. This is the perfect fight for Shogun. He does not have to worry about Liddell take him down to the ground as both fighters will want to strike.
Both have knock out power but speed is where Shogun will win this fight. Chuck Liddell could not knock out the slower Wanderlei Silva and Shogun will be looking to avenge his good friend’s loss. Striking-wise, Shogun has a much better training background. He began training Muay Thai at seven, at which he became 10-0. Rua then started training with the famous Chute Boxe Academy. In addition to Muay Thai and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, he also currently trains in wrestling and western boxing. Shogun has better lower leg kicks and kicks. Liddell use to kick a lot but if in his last 5 fights he no longer kicks.
Bottom Line: The million dollar question is if Shogun has the cardio back. Though never known for cardio, he is younger and not in shape from his long time away from fighting. He has had a long lay off from various injuries so it is hard to gauge his return but at +165 by most online sportsbooks, this bet is hard to pass up on a fighter that was once considered one the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world. He came from the same camp as Anderson Silva and his skills striking-wise are on par with the middleweight champion. Shogun will win this fight on speed and being the younger fighter.
Shogun Gains Back Respect with a First Round KO Over the Iceman
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