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Wednesday, August 24, 2011
In his words: History, Griffin and pressure

By Mauricio Rua
Special to ESPN.com

In this ESPN.com blog, former light heavyweight champion Mauricio "Shogun" Rua discusses what went wrong against Jon Jones, dealing with his brother Murilo's retirement, and operating on all cylinders ahead of UFC 134 in Rio.

Rio de Janeiro: I’m now in the host hotel for UFC 134 this Saturday night. It is the first time the UFC has run a card in Brazil since the late 1990s and this is an epic show. It's the hot ticket in Brazil right now and everybody wants to be part of it.

For me it's great to be part of this card, this moment in history and to be able to fight for my fans here in Brazil, near my family and friends. I just wished my friends could have gotten tickets, as it was almost impossible to buy one due to the huge interest! All the tickets went immediately; Brazil is very hot for the UFC.

For me to fight on this historical card, it means a lot. It is part of history and people will remember this card for a very long time. But I also have a very hard fight to win. My rematch with Forrest Griffin is very important for my career, and after losing my UFC light heavyweight title to Jon Jones in my last fight I know it will do a lot of good for my career to come right back and beat Griffin.

There has been more attention from Brazilian media than for a lot of other fights, and I know I will enjoy the press conference and fight week, but when it's time to fight -- when Saturday comes--- things are the same for me as they always are. It's a fight with two guys inside the cage and that's the only thing I have to focus on -- winning the fight against Forrest -- no matter where it is.

But I am not saying there’s more pressure for me to win because it is in Brazil. I think the pressure is pretty much the same, because I try not to focus on any extra pressure whether it is a title fight, a title defense or anything else. Really, I think besides having fun during fight week, the only real difference with this UFC fight to any other is that this time I won’t be jetlagged.

The reality is that anytime you are fighting, only a win does any good for you and there's endless pressure there already.

It's very tough to move up the rankings in the UFC 205-pound division -- you have to beat tough guy after tough guy and sometimes winning isn’t good enough; you must look good in winning to separate yourself from the rest of the pack. But it is very easy to move down if you lose -- as there are no easy fights in the UFC in this weight class. Being a top MMA fighter is a tough way to be a sportsman, but it’s what I love.

You can follow Rua on Twitter at shogunrua and watch him battle Forrest Griffin at UFC 134 Saturday on pay-per-view