The UFC on FOX 5 event was a changing of the guard for Mauricio “Shogun” Rua. The former UFC light heavyweight champion was relegated to gatekeeper status for the young up and coming contender in Alexander Gustafsson.
He was competitive in spurts, but Gustafsson was clearly the better fighter landing almost double the amount of significant strikes according to Fightmetric. Gustafsson was also successful with his takedowns as he was able to take Rua down six times.
The loss cements Rua’s place as a gatekeeper in the UFC light heavyweight division, which is a big reason why he should consider dropping down to the middleweight division:
- Rua’s not close to getting a rematch with Jon Jones, and I’m not sold that fans are even interested in a rematch
- As I already harped on, he’s a gatekeeper in the UFC light heavyweight division
- He isn’t a huge light heavyweight and should be able to make the cut to 185 pounds if he made it a priority
There are multiple fighters who have made the drop from light heavyweight to middleweight with good success. Michael Bisping, Vitor Belfort, Tim Boetsch, and Rua’s old training partner Wanderlei Silva all come to mind. It’s obvious Rua still have skills to be a very good fighter, but he is probably past the apex of his career at this point. He still possesses the heart of a lion, granite chin, and the aggressive style we have all come to love over the years.
The move to the middleweight division offers a new starting point against a brand new slate of fighters. A new motivation to keep training at a high level, and the opportunity to extend his career a bit longer than it would be if he stayed in the light heavyweight division.