Despite Chael Sonnen speaking bad of Brazil, ‘Shogun’ Rua feels respect from American foe

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Photo by Esther Lin via MMAFighting.com

Mauricio “Shogun” Rua hasn’t before been considered an ill-tempered fighter, spouting off in reaction to trash talk coming from his UFC opponents. His lead-up to the UFC Fight Night 26 main event with Chael Sonnen has been no different.

The fighter mostly ignores the chatter spewed between fights, but one thing he’s taken notice to is Sonnen’s talk of Brazil. That and the way Sonnen talks about his friend, Wanderlei Silva, in the press are things Rua considers slightly bothersome.

“The only thing that bothers me is when he talks about my country and my friend Wanderlei,” Rua revealed at a pre-fight news conference in Boston to promote Saturday’s fight card.

Sonnen, who unofficially sets the standard for pre-fight hype with his delivery of trash talk, reminiscent of pro wrestling, has gone off about Silva in the recent past. Referring to Rua and Silva’s boss, for example, has been part of Sonnen’s verbal assault.

Shogun, though, said it doesn’t affect him to the point of getting in the way of Saturday’s fight. The former Pride Grand Prix champ keeps his crosshairs on making sure he’s ready to compete well when he steps in the Octagon.

“I try to not get too much involved in that,” he said of Sonnen’s views of Silva. “I try to keep my focus on my training so I can make sure I’m going to be 100 percent ready for the fight.”

This time around, Sonnen has been surprisingly quiet going into the main event in Boston. Instead of tirades about his opponent’s culture, fighting style or anything else he’s said about previous foes, Sonnen has been very respectful when discussing Rua.

The 180-degree turn in Sonnen’s approach to the fight hasn’t raised Shogun’s eyebrows, though.

“That doesn’t surprise me,” Rua said. “Chael Sonnen has always respected me, since the beginning of my career. Before our fight he’s always showed me a lot of respect.”

But if Sonnen did start talking, Shogun said, it wouldn’t change anything about what Rua plans to do to the “American Gangster” on Aug. 17. The fight is a chance to get back to where he was in 2010 and 2011: at the top of the UFC’s 205-pound division.

“Even if he starts talking, that’s not going to change anything,” he said. “My desire for the victory will be the same. I’m an experienced fighter and that doesn’t change my mind.

“My main goal today is to get back to the belt – to a title shot. I think this victory over Sonnen will be the first step. Right now I’m really focused on this fight and … getting back on track. I think my chance and my opportunity for a title shot will be the result of my fight.”

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