Yes, I know this is a little bit late. But in the Forrest underdog to Shogun thread, I came to a realization- Shogun Rua, chillingly brutal as he is at his best, has a fatal weakness to grinding, takedown + top control fighters. Maybe some of you have figured this out, maybe not; at any rate, I have never seen this articulated, and think it bears repeating-
Shogun always loses to grinders ALL of Rua's losses are to grinders (specifically- well rounded grinders).
Gifs, breakdowns, etc after the jump.
Now, before you point to Rua's wins over Arona and Randleman, I will give him credit for those wins. They were swift and decisive. However, Arona had just gone through a grueling battle with Wanderlei, and was exhausted; whereas over on the other side of the bracket, Shogun had a much easier time with his 6 minute TKO victory over Alistair Overeem. Randleman, as we all know, is quite one dimensional, and has historically been a pretty easy submission mark.
From early in his career to his current run in the UFC, Mauricio's main flaw has reared it's ugly face repeatedly. Renato Sobral was the first man to exploit this. Yes, Babalu was already a veteran of some 27 fights at that point, as opposed to Shogun's 4, which is obviously an enormous advantage. Basic synopsis- Babalu gained easy takedowns and worked from top control throughout the entirety of the first round, Shogun was able to stuff him in the second frame and work from the top to tie up the scorecards. The final round was a back and forth grappling match, with Shogun rolling for leglocks on two separate occasions, and Babalu cinching a guillotine he had worked on for some time (initially trying for the arm in, then re-adjusting and clearing Rua's arm for the finish).
And that was fine- there's little shame in losing a war to a skilled veteran like Babalu. Shogun went on to have an EXTREMELY successful run in Pride FC (I entrust your MMA history chops and spare you the details of said run). And in that run, you could point to different grueling fights he had as a rebuttal to my argument, such as the Diet Nog and Kaz Nakamura fights; however, in those fights, it was really Rua's boxing chops that were tested- he was the one executing the majority of the takedowns.
At any rate, during Shogun's tenure in PRIDE, he was never really put on his ass and ground down, and so his endurance was never an issue. An arm snapping mishap against notorious double leg + top position striking machine Mark Coleman can be chalked up to poor falling technique (known as Ukemi in Judo) on Shogun's part- another function of his poor defensive wrestling, and what I personally believe is (at least partially) responsible for his recurring knee injuries.
While we're on the topic of Coleman, I will momentarily leapfrog Forrest and summarize their rematch at 93. First off, I would like to say that the people who say Coleman was going to win a decision are batshit crazy; Shogun got taken down twice early in the first, but then proceded to beat the piss out of Marky Mark, standing and on the ground (even dropping him with a right). Round 2, Coleman got another few takedowns that he did nothing with, and Shogun still beat him up with strikes, as well as hitting a deep omoplata where Coleman was saved by the bell. Coleman was on his way to winning the 3'rd round with takedowns and ground strikes, but we all know how that ended.
Despite the support I show for Shogun here, it was clear that he was pretty damn tired by the 2'nd round, and really gassed by the 3'rd. Mark Coleman is 1 dimensional, and his striking defense has always been an issue for him when fatigue set in. This wasn't a loss, but it certainly wasn't an aesthetically appealing performance either.
The most obvious example of Shogun's woes against grinders is (unsurprisingly) at the hands of Forrest Griffin. Long story short, Forrest did what he does best- apply pressure. Shogun looked good early, landing with strikes and scoring takedowns. But the gumptious Griffin grinded away at the glorified Pride golden boy, grappling Rua until he gasped for air, in one of the gutsiest displays of gusto seen in the Octagon's great history.
And then (alliteration aside), Jon Jones did the same damn thing. Except for this time, there was no comeback; there were no early displays of skill- just Jon Jones throwing flying knees, spinning elbows, and slamming Shogun to the mat. And by the 3'rd round, Shogun was done for. BE poster PDL has mentioned that Jones fought dirty, attacking the throat and using headbutts. As rude as that is, it doesn't change the fact that Shogun would never beat Jon Jones.
Yes, Shogun has had some very bad luck with his knee injuries, but more than anything- he's had problems with takedown & top control specialists. I don't want to call Shogun a frontrunner, because that's obviously not true; however, Shogun's lackadaisical approach to takedown defense, and poor Ukemi has been the major issue plaguing his career. The man will undoubtedly go down as one of the great LHW's of our time, and can still accomplish quite a bit more in our sport, especially by dropping to a more competitive weight of 185. And hell, maybe fighting men his own size will mitigate these problems.
I'm a big Shogun fan, and I don't want this to seem like disrespect in any way. It's just something that came to me, that I felt should be articulated.