Does “Shogun” Run The Risk Of Following In His Brother’s Footsteps?
Everyone is talking about the earth shattering encounter between Dan Henderson and “Shogun” Rua from UFC 139. From the fight itself, to the judging, to a rematch, and just about everything in between. However, one thing I haven’t seen any mention of, despite their being discussion about what a hellacious beating both fighters took, is the physiological toll particularly on the Brazilian. I think Dan Chiappetta wrote about how he doesn’t want to see a rematch, and listed the particularly savage nature of the fight as one of the reasons, however he’s missing a deeper point.
For those long-time MMA fans, you’re probably quite familiar with Mauricio’s brother Murilo “Ninja” Rua, and his tribulations. For those less seasoned, Murilo is the elder brother of Mauricio, who was at one time thought to be the future of MMA, like his younger sibling. The second half of the elder Rua’s career was marred by the fact that “Ninja” had allegedly suffered brain damage in his 2004 bout with Sergei Kharitonov, a vicious knockout loss in which he was fighting well above any reasonable weight for himself. This situation was only exacerbated throughout his career, with four additional KO or TKO losses coming after the Kharitonov bout. The culmination of this was a performance against Tom Watson where an almost Zombie-like version of Murilo was essentially put out to pasture by the British Middleweight, and had those close to him calling for his retirement. Thankfully, that was his final bout, and a comeback is not expected from him at this point, as it should stay. For you sadists out there, here is that fight:
Now, “Shogun” is obviously nowhere near reaching the mental depreciation “Ninja” displayed, as slurred speech and a meandering thought process were clearly shown in interviews during the latter stages of his career. Hell, he’s nowhere near the physical or technical depreciation of his brother either, as Mauricio has always been the superior fighter. “Shogun” is yet to even be knocked out in his 26-fight career, and if you were to judge the likelihood of that happening solely on the Henderson fight, he may never be. The man’s skull seems to be constructed in a way similar to Henderson’s or BJ Penn’s, in that it would take something truly remarkable for him to lose consciousness. He has however been involved in his fair share of wars in MMA (he was dropped multiple times in both the Rogerio Nogueira and Henderson fights), and took a rather severe beating against Jon Jones. Rua has now had his brain seriously rattled in two of his last three fights, and while he hasn’t been knocked out, we’ve seen that it doesn’t always take a knockout to cause the type of trauma that can affect a fighter later in life.
Given the family history, I can only hope that were “Shogun” to ever start showing some of the symptoms his brother has displayed for the past seven years, that someone (hopefully Murilo himself), would step in and tell him that it’s not worth it. “Shogun” has already cemented himself in the annals of MMA for all the right reasons, he would have no reason to continue on if it put his life after MMA at risk.