November 8th 2002 a 20 year old Maurício Rua stepped through some wobbly white ropes inside a smoky bingo hall in Brazil for his first professional fight. Fast forward 14 years and 31 pro fights, the man known now simply as Shogun will step inside a cage on November 8th 2014 to celebrate his 12th year on the job. Cake and punch will be served in the break room, please only take one slice so there is enough for everyone.
12 years sitting behind a desk working the same job is mentality taxing. 12 years fighting off grown men who want to cave your face in is both mentally and physically taxing. A grizzled veteran of the sport at the age of 32, Shogun will close his briefcase, tighten his tie, and head to the office in the main event of UFC Fight Night 56 against late replacement Ovince Saint Preux.
No longer a young pup, Shogun now is paired with opponents who have watched his 14 year career unfold through the lens of a fan. Shogun talked with UFC.com about the new reality of his fight life.
“I appreciate this a lot, and it’s funny because I’m still young or at least I think of myself as still a young guy (Laughs) and this is now happening often as when I fight on November 8th it’ll be exactly my 12th year anniversary as a pro MMA fighter,” he said. “I didn’t even notice that until a fan told me, so I guess I’m not as young anymore or at least I started very young (Laughs). I really appreciate fighters looking up to me, and I remember the same thing happened when I was fighting James Te Huna.”
Shogun’s hall of fame career is littered with landmarks in MMA’s brief history.
His upset of Rampage Jackson at Pride Total Elimination 2005 rubber stamped his arrival to light heavyweight’s hierarchy. His tragic arm break at Pride 31 had fans cringe at the unpredictable nature of the sport. His two fights with Forrest Griffin were a pair of the most dramatic endings in UFC history. And his no doubt knockout of Lyoto Machida proved doubters wrong and added 12 pounds of UFC hardware to his resume.
The date of Shogun’s next fight means either UFC matchmaker Joe Silva is really a sentimental old soul or the fight universe works in mysterious ways. The Earth rotates around the sun in roughly 365 day increments. Spread out 4,380 days from his first taste of pro MMA, Shogun is destined to give the MMA world another iconic moment. Something unpredictable will happen, Shogun has always given the rotating MMAsphere that much.