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Best Possible Opponents for Shoguns Final Fights

Best Possible Opponents for Shogun’s Final Fights

With his opponent Antonio Rogerio Nogueira likely riding off into the sunset, Mauricio Rua seems to be completing his own exit from the sport. Shogun pitched a proverbial shutout against Lil Nog in their series. Rua went up 3-0 over Nogueira in a series that dates back to the 2005 PRIDE middleweight grand Prix. The 38-year-old former PRIDE Grand Prix and UFC light heavyweight champion has had an exemplary career but all good things must come to an end. Here are some opponents that I would love to see for Shogun’s Final Fights.

Shogun’s Final Fights


I think this is a rematch that ardent Shogun Rua fans could really sink their teeth into. With Mauricio Rua indicating that he’s looking to have two or three more fights before calling it a career, this would presumably be on his list of desired matchups. The first bout saw Shogun halted by strikes 34 seconds into the first round. It was one of the more deflating losses of Shogun’s career and a chance for redemption in the rematch would likely electrify Rua’s fanbase.

Paul Craig

This is a fight that Rua himself indicated a specific interest in. The Craig fight also represents a rematch but the initial fight ended in a draw. Craig also competed on the same card that saw Shogun win the trilogy bout against Lil Nog. Paul Craig bested Gadzhimurad Antigulov via first-round triangle choke. So the timelines for Craig and Shogun to map out their next fights would intersect together quite smoothly. It’s an exciting bout on paper and presents a chance for a defined winner to emerge.

Anderson Silva

This is a dream match up that has existed on MMA forums for around 15 years. Silva too is entering the twilight of his own UFC career. With his octagon endeavors getting ready to come to an end, why not book a matchup like this? Two former UFC champions and Brazilian icons getting locked in the cage together. The two have exciting fighting styles, there’s competitive parity when considering their age and competitive wear and ear, etc.

It seems like Silva is looking for super fights among lower weight classes (Conor McGregor and Anthony Pettis) but I would love to see Silva vs Shogun finally come to fruition.

Khalil Rountree

I think this matchup makes a ton of sense. Shogun doesn’t need to be taking on a top 5 ranked, 205 lb-er of the present day. I think Rountree represents a fight against a capable young talent that can engage the legend in standup fireworks. The improvements to Rountree’s Muay Thai game have been noticeable across his last few fights and Rua will undoubtedly indulge Rountree in that department. This one has “performance of the night bonus” written all over it.

Gokhan Saki

It’s been over two years since Saki has competed in the UFC but this one would be a barnburner. Saki’s MMA experience is markedly lower than Rua’s (1-2 overall) but the kickboxing resume of Gokhan Saki evens things out in my destination. Saki has been in there with some of the most elite kickboxers on the planet from middleweight to heavyweight. On a stylistic level, this could result in Rua having at least one final classic. A performance that harkens back to Shogun’s wars with guys like Dan Henderson and the aforementioned Lil Nog.

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