UFC light heavyweight champ Mauricio "Shogun" Rua is only 29 years old but it's not a young 29. The champ has endured not one, not two but three major reconstructive surgeries on his knees.
He made his UFC debut against Forrest Griffin at UFC 76 and fought with a ruptured ACL ligament. After dropping that fight to Griffin via submission, Rua underwent knee surgery in Brazil. Unfortunately it didn't take and he had to have a second surgery before fighting again after rushing his rehab and re-injuring the knee. He was out for 16 months that time.
His performances after that surgery were up and down. He struggled against the aging Mark Coleman at UFC 93 and was visibly gassed after wrestling with Coleman early. He came back to KO'd another aging legend in Chuck Liddell at UFC 97 but many fans doubted Shogun was truly "back".
That all changed when he ended the so-called Machida era by first taking him the distance at UFC 104 and then finishing him in the rematch at UFC 113. After the second fight it was revealed that Rua had once again hurt his knee (he also endured a appendix surgery during training camp for that fight.). He's since sat out 10 months while recovering from the surgery.
Will Shogun's knee be a factor in the fight? He says it won't. Talking to MMA Junkie:
"My knee is 100 percent," Rua told MMAjunkie.com through his manager and interpreter, Eduardo Alonso. "I've done everything to fix it. I've been training hard for a long time.
"I was training already from October on, but I started training 100 percent around November when the doctor released me to train 100 percent. I never felt any pain or any problems with my knee after the surgery. I was respecting the doctor's orders and doing exactly as he told me."
"I've stayed sidelined for longer periods in the past," Rua said. "In 2007, I stayed sidelined for about one year and a half. It was also a long time when I injured my arm in the past in Japan."
Here's hoping he's healthy because a fight between Shogun at the top of his game and the fast-rising Jones ought to be a classic.