This is obviously the first time I've done one of these articles about the winning fighter but I think there is a lot to learn here that we're going to be seeing pop up in Shogun's future fights. Check the gif below out and I'm sure you'll see the points I'm going to harp on:
Both guys throw wide left hooks and both guys leave their right hand at about waist height. Shogun has a couple things going for him here. 1) He keeps his chin down whereas Chuck's is fully exposed. 2) He is quicker than Liddell to get his punch out, which is a function of Chuck's punching speed being all but gone.
It was not only one time where Shogun threw a punch where his other hand was not in a solid defensive position. For the entirety of the short fight Rua was winging wide punches with his guard down. It's the kind of thing that Liddell used to feast on but with significantly diminished reflexes he was never able to take advantage.
And this is where Mauricio's technique has me worried about his future. The top 3 light heavyweights in the world in the Consensus Rankings right now are very good at counterstriking. I can see any of Evans, Jackson or Machida eating these kind of reckless strikes alive and probably finishing Rua inside of three rounds. Even some guys outside of the top 10, specifically Cane and Cantwell, would stand a good chance of beating this version of Shogun.
Were I training the next guy to take on Shogun we'd be working a lot on step-in, counter hook techniques. Mainly when the wide shot start to come take a step toward Shogun while keeping (in the case of a wide left hook) your right hand pasted to the side of your face. This will allow your arm to absorb his arm while his fist ends up behind your head. During the step in let a short counter left hook go. It's a simple boxing technique that is the best way to deal with a wide puncher. Also if a fighter trusts his timing enough Rua is open for a straight right, but it's far more risky to try as it leaves your chin a bit more exposed.
Regardless, Rua's wild style is cause for concern in a light heavyweight division loaded with talented counterstrikers and I'm not ready to declare that he is "back on top" until I see him hang in there with someone who isn't a slowed down shell of his former self.
Previous "How Not to Punch" Editions: