Commentary

Rua's top five bouts -- in his words

Originally Published: March 22, 2014
By Brett Okamoto | ESPN.com

Machida/RuaEd Mulholland for ESPN.comMauricio Rua considers his UFC title win over Lyoto Machida as the crowning achievement of his career.

Mauricio Rua will eclipse 30 professional fights on Sunday when he meets Dan Henderson at a UFC Fight Night event in Natal, Brazil.

The two met previously at UFC 139 in November 2011 in what is considered one of the best fights in UFC history. Henderson (29-11) ultimately won the five-round light heavyweight contest via unanimous decision.

Rua (22-8) says although he lost, he considers the first meeting against Henderson to be among the top five fights of his career. In no particular order, "Shogun" lists that top five below.

Dan Henderson at UFC 139, Nov. 19, 2011 (lost via unanimous decision)

"I remember I got hit with some very hard shots early on in the fight. It was a tough start for me. I was very dazed, dizzy. It really took me awhile to get back in the fight. I was able to recover and get myself back in it. It was a very hard battle.

"It was a fight where we both fought with our hearts. That's what made it special. As far as damage goes, it was pretty much usual -- bruises here and there, small cuts. It was not that major, but the effort we put into the fight was what stood out."

Quinton Jackson at Pride: "Total Elimination 2005," April 23, 2005 (won via first-round TKO)

"It was likely my first classic bout. It was the first big match I was involved in. "Rampage" [Jackson] was big in Pride back then. I was pretty much the dark horse entering the Pride Middleweight Grand Prix tournament -- the 16th fighter, per se. I was a youngster.

"There was a lot of buzz about the fight, and I was able to dominate. Even Mr. [Nobuyuki] Sakakibara, who was Pride's president back then, gave me a lot of compliments. I was very confident [going into the fight]. I trained with Wanderlei Silva back then, and he was the best guy in the world at the time."

Ricardo Arona at Pride: "Final Conflict 2005," Aug. 28, 2005 (won via first-round TKO)

"That was a very important, very special fight for me back then. Not only was it a fight for the Pride title, but also we had a rivalry between Brazilian Top Team and Chute Box. Ricardo was with Brazilian Top Team and I was with Chute Box. He had just beaten Wanderlei Silva, my teammate, earlier that same night [the Pride tournament format meant participants would fight multiple times in one night.]

"There was a lot of tension involved. I wanted to win not only to become champion but to also get revenge for my friend Wanderlei. It was a big fight, and it got me a lot of recognition worldwide.

Chuck Liddell at UFC 97, April 18, 2009 (won via first-round TKO)

"I was a little nervous for that fight; there was a lot at stake for that fight. It got me recognition in the UFC since there were a lot of questions about me back then. Chuck Liddell was a very tough, very good fighter. There was big pressure.

"I remember celebrating with my team, and it brought us a lot of joy. Most importantly, it got me a title shot -- the opportunity to fight Lyoto Machida."

Lyoto Machida at UFC 113, May 8, 2010 (won via first-round KO)

"That fight got me to realize my life's dream, which was to become UFC champion. That was the ultimate goal. I was able to land a very good, solid punch and knock him out. That moment where I got him out, it's tough to describe; there's a lot of emotion involved.

"MMA is a very unpredictable sport. When you're fighting someone with small gloves, you can always knock them out at any moment with the proper strike. I knew I could knock him out with the right punch. I had confidence in that."

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