- Brett Okamoto
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Mauricio Rua says his nose is still beautiful. In fact, he jokes, it looks better than ever.
"Shogun" (22-9) is about seven months removed from surgery on a badly broken nose, which he suffered during a TKO loss to Dan Henderson in March.
It was not the first injury of Rua's career, but some would have liked to see it be the last. The 32-year-old has won only two fights in three years -- and taken his fair share of damage during that time.
Included among those who would have Rua hang up his gloves for good are several family members. Earlier this year, he told a Brazilian news outlet his wife and mother have encouraged him to retire.
The former UFC light heavyweight champion has no intention of retiring any time soon, however, and is set to face Ovince Saint Preux (16-6) at UFC Fight Night on Saturday in Uberlandia, Brazil.
Win, lose or draw, Rua says he sees himself fighting "four to five more years" and does not feel any added pressure to make a statement despite his recent skid.
"I'm very happy to continue to fight, and I really don't pay attention or care about anyone's comments," said Rua, through translator and manager Eduardo Alonso. "As long as I'm happy and the UFC and fans want to see me fight, why would I stop?"
"I don't feel like I have anything to prove in this fight. I don't feel obligated to win -- only to do my best."
Rua says he has discussed his comments to the Brazilian television station with his wife and mother and clarified that they have always felt uneasy about him fighting for a living.
The Brazilian says he feels physically good 12 years into his pro career. A broken nose might make some spectators (and family members) wince, but Rua said the issue was behind him after one simple surgery. No big deal.
"That's been going on with my family for a long time," Rua said. "My mom and wife don't really understand fighting. To them, it's much more dangerous than it really is. They've always wanted me to stop.
"I had a talk with them, explained better how my profession goes, and now everything is cool."
Whether he feels close to the end of his career or not, Rua could certainly use a victory this weekend against Saint Preux. The UFC has already announced that Rua will coach opposite former middleweight champion Anderson Silva in the next season of "The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil" reality series, but the two will not meet at the end of the season. Rua's next in-cage opponent will be heavily influenced by this weekend's outcome.
Experience could work heavily in his favor, as both he and Saint Preux are dealing with the challenge of a late change in opponent.
Rua admitted that in recent years he has placed emphasis on planning for certain opponents, which makes the last-second change more difficult.
"I trained to fight Jimi Manuwa for two months," Rua said. "I think nowadays MMA has evolved to a point where it's very important to study your opponent's game. That's been my approach for a while now.
"[Manuwa and Saint Preux] are two completely different fighters. Manuwa is right-handed. Saint Preux is a southpaw, taller and has a very unorthodox type of game. It's a completely different approach, but that's part of the sport you deal with."
The important thing for Rua is he has recovered fully from his latest surgery and underwent a strong camp in Sao Paulo. He expects to put on a strong performance in the cage Saturday -- one of many still to come.
Mauricio Rua says his nose is still beautiful. In fact, he jokes, it looks better than ever."Shogun" (22-9) is about seven months removed from surgery on a badly broken nose, which he suffered during a TKO loss to Dan Henderson in March.