We got the chance to talk with new UFC Light Heavyweight Champion, Mauricio "Shogun" Rua, while he was giving a seminar at Toronto BJJ, in Toronto, Canada. Here he talks about his last victory over Machida, a potential fight against Anderson Silva, tells us who between Rampage and Rashad Evans he would like to face the most and gives us a prediction for that fight:
You had surgery 2 months prior to your fight against Lyoto Machida. How did this affect your training camp?
It changed the set up to some extent but I was looking forward to the fight, I was training for it and had my appendix taken out 7 weeks before the fight. But the strategy and everything else was working already. I just kept training and that's it.
You came out very aggressive against Machida the second time around. Was it because of you had surgery and you knew you had to finish it quickly, or was it your strategy from the get go?
No, I wasn't more aggressive because of [the surgery]. The people that know me know that I'm always aggressive and always looking for the KO, that's the nature of my fights, and in that fight I just did the same thing. I also feel that in the first fight, I held myself too much and this time I just wanted to let it go.
Andre Dida said that Machida's karate cannot beat your muay thai. Out of 10 times, how many times do you feel you can beat Lyoto Machida?
I respect Lyoto a lot, he's a tough dude but I hope to win all of the 10 times because I truly believe in my technique.
Machida was undefeated. Now that you beat him, do you think other people will still struggle with him or you think you found the secret recipe and everybody is going to follow it to beat him?
It depends on the opponent. Not everybody can learn how to kick fast, or put that strategy together. He's still a tough guy to beat but we never know what's going to happen.
You like when people push you in training, when have new challenges. Now that you have the belt, do you feel you will keep the same hunger and motivation in training?
We don't work so hard all year around, we have phases of training, it's like a cycle. My team always takes care of everything but definitely, it's going to be a new challenge for me to defend that belt, because it was a dream come true, I conquered it, and now I'm going to work on my mind to keep my motivation. It can be bad for me but I'm going to work hard so it doesn't affect my performances.
What's your prediction for Rampage vs. Rashad Evans?
I think Rampage [will win], but it's close to 50/50 to me. I'd say 55% for Rampage, 45% Rashad.
Who do you want to fight the most between Rampage and Rashad Evans?
To me Rampage or Rashad, it doesn't make a difference, they are both top fighters. But a fight against Rampage would be good... for the pay-per-view [laughs].
Do you want to fight Anderson?
I'm a professional fighter, I never pick my opponents, I'd fight anyone. Anderson can be a big challenge to my career, but I'm used to them.
In the first fight against Machida, you were picking your shots, in the second, you were really agressive. Anderson Silva is also a counter striker. If you had to fight him, which of the two strategies would you use against him?
Anderson and Lyoto kind of have the same style, but they are still different. Right now, I don't think about Anderson, it's not my next fight, I'm focused on celebrating my victory and on [the winner of Rampage vs. Rashad Evans].
Who's your toughest fight up to this day?
The most difficult fight of my career is Lyoto, because Lyoto is a different guy and the training was different because his style is so different than anybody else's. For every other fight, the training is normal but for Lyoto, I needed to change everything, train with different guys...
When are we going to see Murilo "Ninja" in the UFC?
To tell you the truth, we already talked with UFC matchmaker Joe Silva. But now he's under a contract with Shine Fight Promotions, but we're waiting for a couple more victories and we'll probably see him in the UFC soon.
When you moved from PRIDE to the UFC, what was your biggest adjustment?
Most people think the rules are the biggest issue when you transition from PRIDE to the UFC, but to me, the space was the biggest problem. Because the PRIDE ring used to be 6 meters square [20 feet square] and the cage is huge. The dimensions are different, the movement, the stance...
A lot of former PRIDE fighters didn't do well in the UFC, you're one of the few exceptions to succeed. Why do you think these other guys struggled more?
Today, MMA has evolved as a sport and maybe some of the PRIDE fighters didn't have the mentality of changing up their games and become complete MMA fighters in today's standards. Today, you have to be a complete MMA fighter but a few years ago, you had the guy who was only good on the ground, or only good standing up but today it's different, it's more athlete against athlete. You have to study your opponent and set up a specific strategy to beat them. Maybe some people didn't follow this evolution [of the sport].
What do you miss the most from PRIDE?
The fans in Japan.
Do you miss the stomps and the soccer kicks?
Yes. And I hope they bring them to the UFC [laughs].
Why did you leave the Chute Boxe camp?
I felt that in the Chute Boxe camp, I reached a point in jiu-jitsu and grappling. The striking there was always outstanding but I reached that point and felt I could get better training [elsewhere] to get to the next level. We were free to go wherever we wanted or choose whoever we wanted to, and I already had the best Muay Thai coaches.
Who was the most satisfying person for you to knockout. Ricardo Arona or Lyoto Machida [laughs]?
Who's your favorite fighter to watch?
My brother. Because every time we set up a strategy for him, but he changes everything because he fights on emotions [laughs].
What do you think about Machida drinking his own urine, is this something you would do [laughs]?
I respect him and believe nobody should judge. I think it's alright but don't believe in it and will never do it. I prefer protein [laughs].
What is more important to succeed in MMA, skill or athleticism?
What makes the difference are the skills, athleticism is good but I like to train in boxing, jiu-jitsu, muay thai, to become a better fighter.
What is your favorite striking technique?
What is your favorite punch?
How much do you weight on fight night?
Around 3 kilos [6 to 7 pounds] more, I don't cut too much.
Did you weigh the same against Machida or were you lighter because of the surgery?
No, the same weight.
Last but not least, who is the pound for pound best fighter in the world?
Shogun was icing his left knee during the seminar. He revealed to us that he hurt his knee while going for a takedown against Machida, but that it was nothing major. Here is a photo: