RIO DE JANEIRO – The MMA career of the legendary Mauricio Rua is in the rear-view mirror. “Shogun” comfortably sits a retired fighter with little disappointment, despite a loss in his final MMA fight.
Saturday at UFC 283, Rua (27-14-1 MMA, 11-12-1 UFC) was finished with strikes by promotional sophomore Ihor Potieria (19-3 MMA, 1-1 UFC) in the first round. The storybook ending unceremoniously went up in flames, but only for a moment. “Shogun” said he enters retirement peacefully and knows he accomplished what he set out to do more than two decades ago.
“Even though I lost, I really feel a sense of having my mission accomplished of fulfilling my duties because for 21 years, I gave my most,” Rua told reporters, including MMA Junkie, at a post-fight news conference. “I left everything in the rings and octagons and gave it my all. Sometimes, (a loss) happens. I feel relieved and fulfilled in a sense of accomplishment because I did my best and it was a long career. The only thing I can do is to do my best.”
From the time he debuted in 2002 through his final in-cage competition Saturday at Jeunesse Arena, Rua built a large fanbase of loyal supporters, which included many of his peers. He felt the love in defeat, which meant the world to him.
“I think for us fighters, this is our biggest source of motivation – to have the support from the fans,” Rua said. “Obviously, I was sad with the loss. But soon after that, I got energized by the fans with all their heart-warming celebration, the support that they gave me after the fight. This is really what drives us and it made me feel good because I always treated the fans very kindly. I love my fans. To feel the support back made things feel better for sure.”
Many fans and pundits think Rua’s next stop will be the UFC Hall of Fame in the fighter wing. He already is a Hall of Famer in the fight wing for his 2011 fight against Dan Henderson at UFC 139.
A former UFC light heavyweight champion, Rua’s success extends back farther than his initial signing with the promotion. A fruitful stint in PRIDE, including a grand prix tournament victory, preceded his UFC debut.
Wins in the cage are one thing, but Rua likes to think his impact extends beyond entertainment, shiny belts and athletic feats. What “Shogun” seemingly is most proud of is the way he carried himself as a person outside the cage.
“The legacy I want to leave and the way I want to be remembered is as a great person, a good model inside the octagon, as well as outside the octagon,” Rua said. “For us fighters, I think this is very important. This is really what I think fighters should put across and what I try to put across through this whole time: I try to be a good person, both as a professional athlete inside the octagon, but also as a normal person outside the octagon.”
For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC 283.