HOLLYWOOD, Calif. — Former UFC light heavyweight champion Mauricio “Shogun” Rua is working with famed boxing trainer Freddie Roach ahead of the fighter’s UFC 161 bout with Antonio Rogerio Nogueira.
Known for training boxing champion Manny Pacquiao, Roach recently told GracieMag.com he’s on a “special assignment” to help Rua in the striking department for the June 15 fight.
“I was studying a lot of tape on him to get an idea of how he fights,” Roach recently said of Rua.
Rua joins the likes of UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre as MMA fighters who enlist the help of the boxing cornerman ahead of their fights.
Roach explained that he’s been working with Shogun to improve the fighter’s punching power and mechanics. Rua’s stand-up technique, according to the trainer, wasn’t all that impressive when he stepped into Roach’s gym, Wild Card Boxing, a few weeks ago.
“He didn’t know how to transfer his weight too well, and he wasn’t a very big puncher at first,” Roach said, reflecting on Rua’s first three sessions with him. “Once we got him pivoting and punching off the right foot, keeping his boxing stance, he punched really, really hard when he did it correctly.
“I don’t think he was ever taught how to do it correctly.”
Roach added that Rua is already improving on his technique, saying that minor adjustments over the short time span since coming to the Southern California gym have wowed the fighter.
One of Shogun’s biggest criticisms of recent years has been his cardio, which has led many to question whether he can perform well in the later rounds of his fights. Roach addressed the issue, saying that he plans on working with Rua on his cardiovascular strength once the fighter takes care of an issue he’s having with his knee.
“[Shogun] has a little problem with his knee,” Roach said. “I haven’t started working on his cardio yet, but he and my strength coach have gotten together … I think we have to take care of that first before we start getting into the cardio more.”
Roach added that Rua’s rehab is taking place at a location in Orange County, Calif.
When contacted by GracieMag.com, representatives for Rua denied the fighter having any problems with his knee. Requests for further comment from the fighter went unanswered.