Wanderlei Silva’s successor. That was how, in 2003, in GRACIEMAG 81, the masters of Chute Boxe billed Mauricio “Shogun” Rua, the child prodigy of only 21 years who graced the team with a frenetic style of standup and sport Jiu-Jitsu titles. Proving how the Editora GRACIE team knows what its talking about when it comes to Shogun, this month he returns to the cover of NOCAUTE magazine in a feature article on his rematch with Lyoto Machida. Check out yet another article from our treasure chest, and then rush to the nearest news stand, if you are in Brazil, to find out what’s going on in Shogun’s head these days.
Mauricio “Shogun” Ruas’s red Parati car is just as rundown as the opponents the fighter wrecks in the MMA ring. Cracked windshield, dangling rear-view mirror, bodywork covered in dents. Terrified, the GRACIEMAG reporter and photographer cross themselves as they enter the vehicle. Shogun will take them to see the house where he lives, in the modest neighborhood of Bacachiri, north of Curitiba. Despite the bandaged foot (a consequence of his fight against Renato Babablu at the last IFC), the driver slams the pedal to the medal. The trip goes just as fast as the meteoric rise of Shogun’s career, who in less than a year as a professional has already been cast in the highly competitive Pride Bushido event. When he opens the door to his home, Mauricio notes that there’s a letter in his mail box: “Damn it! Another ticket. This is Ninja’s doing. This is no good. ”
Until recently, Shogun was known only as “the brother of Murilo ‘Ninja’”. The name, or rather the fighter’s nickname only became popular in the world of MMA early on the morning of August 2, 2003, when Mauricio stepped into the ring at Meca 9 to face the dreaded Evangelista Cyborg. Standing, the Chute Boxe representative knew how to absorb the blows his opponent dished out like a seasoned boxer. On the ground, Shogun simply ran rings around his opponent: he applied a foot lock, nearly snapped Cyborg’s arm with an armbar and got the mount thrice. It was the fighter from Curitiba’s third official win, having already defeated by knockout Rafael Capoeira and Angelo Antonio at Meca 7 and 8, respectively.
By outgunning Cyborg, Shogun left the shadow of his older brother and your resume went on to seduce the moguls of international MMA. What about the crowd? “After that fight I gave my first autograph. It’s great to have your work recognized,” said the chuteboxer vibrantly.
A month after the fight, Shogun traveled to the United States to compete at IFC – Global Domination. The tough guy would have to defeat three opponents on the same night to become champion of the event. His initial obstacle was Erik Wanderley, super heavyweight champion of the Jiu-Jitsu World Championship 2003, but making his MMA debut. Shogun won by technical knockout in the second round. In the semi-finals, Mauricio duked it out with Renato “Babalu” Sobral. The fight was evenly matched until 3:07min of the third round, when Shogun tapped to a guillotine.
It was the first setback of his career. “I cried a lot in the locker room. It was the Chute Boxe name [he pronounces it Chute Boxss] that was at stake, you know? The next day, on the flight back to Brazil, I sat next to Babalu. We shook hands and I congratulated him. I realized then that I had already gotten over the loss; I’m ready for the next one,” says Shogun.
Cell phone vs Interview
The poor result in the IFC didn’t stop Mauricio from being invited to participate at Pride Bushido, on October 5. At the time this article went to press, the fight against Akira Shoji has not happened, but the Japanese public’s enchantment with Shogun’s performance is pretty much guaranteed. “He’s the kind of athlete that every manager wants to have in his event: a striker who can also finish. If he can’t win standing, he takes it to the ground and puts on a show,” says Chute Boxe grandmaster Rudimar Fedrigo in assessment.
What is impressive is how Shogun hasn’t made it to the highest rank in the martial arts he practices with such ease. A dark blue stripe in muay Thai and a brown belt in Jiu-Jitsu, Shogun lives by the following motto: “A belt is a piece of cloth to tie the gi with. I’ll fight anybody, on equal terms, after all …” The statement is cut short because Shogun’s phone is ringing:
“Talk to me, Bitoca! Call me back in a while, I’m doing an interview with GRACIE.”
What’s the story with “Bitoca?! ” Oh, he’s one of my old friend … We call him Pit-Bitoca. The guy gets pissed … But where was it we stopped the interview at?” While the reporter tried to refresh Shogun’s memory, the phone rings again.
This time, the fighter answers putting on his smooth voice, “Hey, baby … I’ll call you later, okay? I’m doing an interview …”
This time it’s his girlfriend, who he met at an MMA tournament. In Mauricio’s room, there are two frames: one with a picture of her and the other with a picture of the fighter parading down a catwalk. When not training, Shogun is dedicated to the fashion world.
“My modeling career is just a gig. When I was 19, a guy saw me at a fair and offered to do my book. Since it was free, I accepted and since then made some money working in fashion. But fighting takes first place in my life,” explains the “Paulo Zulu” (Brazilian model) of the martial arts world.
At 94 kg (206 lbs) and 1.82 m (5’10”), Shogun wants to reach 100kg within the next four years and become a heavyweight. “He will be the successor to Wanderlei,” says Rudimar. Ninja’s brother is embarrassed, but makes a correction. “I still have a long ways to go to be a Wanderlei. Experience is the main thing missing. I have to think more during my fights,” said Mauricio, who doesn’t remember too well how he came by the nickname “Shogun”. “The brand of gi I wore when I started in Jiu-Jitsu was called Shogun [name of a mythological Japanese warrior]. As I was the brother of “Ninja”, folks felt it was fitting and it took,” recalled the fighter, whose cell phone rings again:
“You’re a pain, Bitoca! You can talk now. The interview’s over.”