It has been nearly 13 years since Mauricio “Shogun” Rua won the UFC Light Heavyweight Championship by knocking out Lyoto Machida in the first round of UFC 113 in Montreal on May 8, 2010. He lost it to a young fighter named Jones. Jon Jones is in his first defense 10 months later, but he has remained an important player on the UFC roster.
However, for the 41-year-old native of Curitiba, Brazil, it all ends on Saturday when he meets Igor Potieria at UFC 283 in Rio de Janeiro in front of an adoring crowd that is sure to be emotional as he wishes him goodbye.
Rua had his greatest success before his UFC debut as he was 16-2 before joining the UFC and has been 11-11 since then in 15+ years. No one, however, can say he takes easy fights like UFC president Dana White said about Francis Ngannou on Saturday, even if White made the comment for strategic business reasons and not because he really believed it.
Rua has fought some of the greatest mixed martial artists in the 205lb division over the last 20 or so years, some of them multiple times.
But he comes out as an outsider on BetMGM, +155, in Potieria. Potieria, who is 0-1 in the UFC, has a -190 favorite. Potieria started his MMA career 3-2 but won 15 of his next 16, with the only UFC 277 loss to Nicolae Negumereanu at UFC 277 in Dallas, Texas in July.
The UFC gave Rua the best fight he could for his retirement fight, but I’m afraid he’s made the most of his talent. If it was a first-class Rua against a first-class Pottieria, Rua could be a 5-1 or 6-1 favorite.
But it’s Rua, 41, who is no longer as fast or as fast as he once was. He is a striker and he has struggled with a kill-or-be-killed mentality throughout his career. It would be ridiculous to think that he would change now.
I suspect Potieria can win by knockout, but I’m going to leave that alone and just be content with playing him to win.
Bet: Igor Potieria -190
Teixeira lost in the main event at home
Former champion Glover Teixeira will face Jamahal Hill for the vacant light heavyweight title in the main event. Teixeira, who was scheduled to have a rematch with Jiri Prochazka in December before Prochazka was injured and forced to pull out, is tied for the money. Hill – favorite -120.
Hill is a terrific puncher and few can stand up to his power. But as Teixeira showed when he lost to Prochasca in Singapore last year, Teixeira is unusually tough and very versatile.
He has been hit hard by Prochazka several times at UFC 275 and Prochazka is one of the best finishers in the sport. But Teixeira survived these blows, and the last choke hold finished him off.
I think he will have to walk the tightrope against Hill and distance control will be key. If he stays at a distance, Hill can hurt him and finish him off. But if Teixeira controls the distance and location of the fight, which he often does, I think he takes it.
Bet: Glover Teixeira EVEN
Who knows about Figueiredo and Moreno?
Interim flyweight champion Brandon Moreno and defending champion Deiveson Figueiredo have already fought three times, each winning once and drawing the other. However, Figueiredo would have won this fight had he not been deducted a point in the third round for a low blow.
All three fights were stylistically different and Moreno is likely to be different this time around as he was forced to change trainers when the UFC banned their fighters from training with James Krause. Instead, Moreno hired Saif Saud of Fortis MMA to train him.
Line -110 to each side, given the close nature of their rivalry. Moreno did finish in the second fight and many thought he deserved to win in the third fight, although the decision was made by Figueiredo.
This is a fight I’ll probably stay away from given all the unknowns, but since this is a title fight, I’m betting half a pound on Moreno to win.
Figueiredo is fighting at home and didn’t have the dominating performance against Moreno that many were expecting. This time he could come out with it. But Moreno turned out to be more versatile, so I’ll bet half a single on him to win.
Bet: Brandon Moreno -110
Walker preferred Craig
Johnny Walker will face Paul Craig at the start of the main map in a truly spectacular fight. Walker is a giant man with a lot of athleticism, but he’s prone to making mistakes. Craig, on the other hand, is a much more technical fighter who takes an intellectual approach to the game.
Walker, oddly enough, has a -190 favorite, while Craig has +155 in buyout.
I think the line on Walker is artificially high because he is a Brazilian fighting in Brazil. Craig admittedly didn’t look very good in his last performance when he was taunted and beaten by Volkan Özdemir in July. But I think Craig is playing here.
Walker, 6-5, has a six-inch reach advantage over Craig (82-76), and that’s significant. Craig is a high-level black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, while Walker has only been defeated once in seven, and that was in 2015.
Craig, however, is very resilient and great when the fight comes to the ground.
Bet: Paul Craig +155