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Former UFC champ Shogun Rua still holds PRIDE GP as greatest career moment, reveals scrapped Fedor bout

As his storied career comes to a close, former UFC & PRIDE Grand Prix champion Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua talked about his greatest career highlight.

Pride Critical Countdown 2005: Shogun v Nogueira
Shogun Rua enters the ring for his 2005 PRIDE bout against Antonio Rogerio Nogueira.
Photo by Zuffa LLC

In an MMA career that stretches back 41 fights and 20 years, Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua has practically done it all. The former PRIDE Grand Prix champion and former UFC champion has created a combat sports legacy filled with thrilling wars and amazing highlights. An era that appears set to come to a close in 2023, with Rua taking what he claims will be his final MMA bout early next year.

Ahead of that fight, Rua sat down with Sherdog to talk a bit about his legacy, what he holds as his greatest accomplishment, and one of the few opportunities to come his way that he didn’t get a chance to take.

“Without a doubt it was Aug. 28, 2005, the day I won the Pride Grand Prix,” The 41-year-old Kings MMA talent enthused when asked about the best moment of his career. “I entered as underdog and finished as champion in a tournament with 16 fighters, which was considered by many as the toughest Grand Prix ever.”

Starting back in April of 2005, Rua defeated future UFC champ Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson via first round KO in the Grand Prix opener. He then went on to take a decision win over Antonio Rogerio Nogueira two months later, in the quarter final leg—a fight many rank among the best in MMA history. Those wins led to PRIDE Final Conflict on August 28th and back-to-back victories in one night, over future Strikeforce heavyweight champ Alistair Overeem and former RINGS middleweight champion Ricardo Arona to claim the tournament crown.

Off that success, PRIDE matchmakers had hoped to put Rua in a superfight against heavyweight champion Fedor Emelianenko. Unfortunately that bout never materialized. Instead Rua faced off against PRIDE’s 2000 Openweight Grand Prix winner Mark Coleman in February of 2006, losing that bout via a broken arm, just 0:49 into the first round.

“After I won the light heavyweight [grand prix] and he won the heavyweight grand prix, the promoters started to talk about a superfight, but it never happened,” Rua said. “Coincidentally I was probably closer to fighting my idol Wanderlei [Silva before he lost to Ricardo Arona in the seminfinals]. But It would have been an honor to fight Fedor when we both were in our primes. In my opinion, Fedor is among the three best pound-for-pound fighters ever.”

Rua is expected to enter the UFC Octagon for the last time on January 21st at UFC 283 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where he’ll face off against Ukraine’s Ihor Potieria. The card is set to be headlined by a bout between Glover Teixeira and Jamahal Hill for the vacant light heavyweight title. The flyweight quadrilogy title bout between Deiveson Figueiredo and Brandon Moreno is planned for the night’s co-main event.