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With the news that Mauricio Rua would be stepping into the cage for a fight with Thiago Silva, some felt that "Shogun" was being granted a bit of an easy fight. After all, his last nine fights have been against former champions. After the initial reaction to the fight, it seemed that people started to think twice about how easy a fight with the hard hitting would actually be.
After all, despite only being 30 years old, Shogun has a ton of "ring miles" on his body. He's been fighting at a high level against world class opponents for nine years and his gutsy style hasn't been easy on him physically. Between the repeated knee injuries and damage suffered in bouts like last November's unbelievable war with Dan Henderson, should any fight against a legitimate opponent really be considered a "gimmie" at this point in his career?
The risks associated with such a fan friendly fight as Shogun vs. Henderson are something noted trainer Mike Winkeljohn is all too familiar with. In a recent interview with Sherdog, the topic of risk and the dangers of being involved with a potential "fight of the night" came up:
"I'm all about angles -- hitting and not getting hit. That's kind of how I want my guys to fight; not stand there and brawl, which I know excites the fans," he said. "I tell guys all the time: I'm not against winning the ‘Fight of the Night,' but really I'm not excited about it. Usually, [it] means there's a slugfest and it could shorten your lifespan down the road."
Not that it should be expected for anyone to walk into a fight and come out healthier, but the Shogun/Hendo fight did feel like we were watching both guys engage in something that would change their lives significantly down the road.
But post-career problems aren't really the subject at hand. Fights like that can age a fighter in the cage (or ring) as well.
Between the inconsistent schedule of Mauricio due to injuries and the war with Henderson, along with several other great moments of violence, is it fair to look at his fight with Thiago Silva and expect him to walk through a heavy hitting 205'er? If you pushed me on who I'm picking, it's Shogun. But I wouldn't lay a dollar of my own money on the fight either way. There are simply too many variables at play every time Shogun enters the cage.