With the announcement last month of Mauricio “Shogun” Rua’s successful shoulder surgery, the Brazilian legend has continued his legacy of becoming a mixed martial arts (MMA) medical marvel. It’s beyond evident that Shogun is injury prone. However, with the amount of punishment he’s received, many may consider it amazing that’s he’s not only still alive to talk about it but continues fighting professionally at the highest level on the biggest stage to this day. Throughout Shogun’s storied 30+ fight MMA career, he has faced countless setbacks via the much-maligned MMA Injury Bug.
Image created by Shayne Smith
Is the shoulder surgery the result of the necessary maintainance when it’s comes to fighting, or that of a washed up fighter? It’s obviously more than just another minor setback to his already legendary career, as it’s serious enough that won’t see him compete again until early 2016. At just 33 years of age, it seems like a regular procedure on the surface. However, to many fans, this is just another reason to make a declaration that Shogun’s best days as a fighter are clearly behind him. Perhaps even that he should retire. The most difficult issue concerning the Shogun situation is that he’s not even that old, although fight years are a completely different story. Many pundits accredit the overwhelming accumulation of damage to a combination of both his days sparring with the legendary Chute Boxe Academy and to the grueling losses he’s accumulated inside the Octagon. There is no doubt that Shogun’s time as a professional mixed Martial Artist has taken it’s toll on him physically. It remains to be seen what the cost are in association with winning those four UFC “Fight of the Night” performance bonuses. Is they to blame for why so many believe Shogun is well past his prime? This article provides a brief medial synopsis of the injuries the former UFC light heavyweight champion has accrued during his times as a professional fighter to further illustrate the determining as to when a fighter is potentially past his prime, and to prove that a fighter being near retirement isn’t solely dependant on age demographics. Shogun’s knees alone have faced more wear and tear than almost any fighter currently on the UFC roster with the exception of Dominick Cruz. The Brazilian first injured his anterior cruciate ligament training for his fight with Forrest Griffin at UFC 76. Trying to fight with injury, he blew out the ligament completely during the ensuing fight. The injury required surgery to correct and countless hours of rehabilitation. Upon rehabbing the lame leg for several months, he returned to training and unfortunately completely blew out his ACL. Another surgery and rehab regimen kept him on the sidelines until his UFC 93 bout with Mark Coleman which was nearly a year and a half after the fight with Griffin. While training for a rematch against Lyoto Machida, he once again injured his knee but against doctors orders, he went on to fight anyways. Despite winning in convincing fashion, the cause for celebration was curtailed by Rua’s need for immediate surgery. As a result it would be just over 10 months later before fans would see him make his Octagon return against Jon Jones. It was a fight that not only ended his title reign in devastating fashion but one where the fighter looked to be a shell of his former self for the first time. To put it simply, his knee imploded. And then it happened again. And then it happened once more for good measure. The surgical repair count needed to fix his knees quickly required three major surgeries in less than three years. However it must be noted that history had shown us MMA fans that Shogun can’t blame these injuries alone for hindering his dreams of becoming a UFC champion. Despite being plagued by the injury bug for a second time, Shogun went on to be UFC champion, however brief the title reign was. Unfortunately, it’s doubtful this time around that Shogun will reclaim his glory days of times past. As fans, we all hope he gets past these latest injury woes to become a contender once again. However as handicappers we have to take this as another indication that he is no longer capable of competing with the division’s elite.