UFC Fight Night 56 Fight Breakdown: Mauricio “Shogun” Rua vs. Ovince St-Preux

mauricio-rua The main event of UFC Fight Night 56 is a five-round light heavyweight bout between Mauricio “Shogun” Rua and Ovince St-Preux. According to the current betting lines available at Several Bookmakers, Shogun is a -195 favorite (bet $195 to win $100) while OSP is a +160 underdog (bet $100 to win $160). MMA oddsmaker Nick Kalikas opened up Shogun at -165 and OSP at +125, and slight action has come in on Shogun so far. This is a really hard fight to predict but I agree that Shogun deserves to be a slight favorite heading into the contest. Here’s why. Shogun (22-9) is the former UFC light heavyweight champion and one of the greatest fighters to ever compete in the sport. The former PRIDE kingpin is the owner of notable career victories over the likes of Lyoto Machida, Alistair Overeem, Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, Chuck Liddell, Forrest Griffin and Rampage Jackson, among others. Now 32 years of age, the Brazilian has shown signs of a serious decline in recent years. Since coming to the UFC, Shogun is 6-7 and he has lost three of his last four fights. To be fair to Shogun, he has only been fighting the best fighters in the world, but still, he fact that a guy who was once one of the most durable fighters in the world has lost two of his last three bouts by stoppage is concerning. After having never been knocked out other than a TKO loss to Jon Jones, he was brutally KOed by Dan Henderson in his last fight, a bout he was winning up until that point. There’s no doubt Shogun is still a talented striker and he definitely has knockout power, but his speed is declining, his conditioning is arguably worse than ever, his takedown defence is poor, and his chin seems to finally be giving away. He’s still dangerous because he has one-punch knockout power, but he’s looked worse than ever lately and at this point of his career it’s hard to trust him. OSP (16-6) is one of the up-and-coming light heavyweights in the UFC. The 31-year-old native of Haiti is 4-1 in the UFC with wins over Ryan Jimmo, Gian Villante, Nikita Krylov and Cody Donovan and a loss to Ryan Bader by decision. He is an athletic freak with a very long reach and explosive takedown ability. When he gets his opponents to the mat, he has a very good top game and has both powerful ground and pound and submission ability from dominant positions. Defensively his takedown defence isn’t great, but it’s not bad either. OSP is the underdog here to Shogun and his ability to get the upset relies on whether or not he can get the takedown. If he can get Shogun down, he can grind out three rounds for the win. But if the fight stays standing, he could be in big trouble as Shogun is a far superior striker and OSP has been knocked out before. It’s hard to back OSP here given that he’s never beaten anyone close to Shogun before, but if he’s made improvements since the fight with Bader he could be a live dog. This is a really interesting matchup and a tough one to predict. If it stays on the feet, obviously Shogun has a huge edge, but we have seen his takedown defence is very poor and OSP definitely has the size and strength to take Shogun down and make it interesting. The problem is, at any time this fight is on the feet OSP will be at a huge disadvantage. He just doesn’t have much in the way of a striking arsenal, while Shogun — despite being at the tail end of his career — is still very capable on the feet. I could see OSP winning the first few rounds with his wrestling, but I don’t think he can keep up that pace for 25 minutes. In a five round fight, I do favor Shogun to find a way to win, and he’ll likely do so by knockout. I can’t recommend a bet on him at -195, but he is my slight lean in this fight. But it’s close enough that I recommend passing on this fight from a betting perspective completely, and just watching as a fan instead.

Written by Adam Martin.

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