UFC Fight Night: Shogun vs. Smith Preview
A preview of Sunday’s UFC Fight Night card, set to take place in Hamburg, Germany.
Updated: July 20, 2018 • 5:25 PM ET
Mauricio “Shogun” Rua has been part of some of the biggest fights in UFC history.
The UFC will crash into Hamburg, Germany on Sunday and feature a light heavyweight showdown between a former champion and a fighter trying to convince fight fans he shouldn’t be overlooked. No. 8 ranked light heavyweight Mauricio “Shogun” Rua will take on Anthony Smith in a five-round fight on Sunday, and each fighter’s fortunes could change in different ways with a victory.
Rua is riding a three-fight winning streak, having most recently defeated Gian Villante by third-round TKO in March 2017. He was originally scheduled to fight No. 2 ranked light heavyweight Volkan Oezdemir in May, but a legal situation forced Oezdemir out of the fight. The fight was rebooked for Saturday night, but Oezdemir was moved to a fight against Alexander Gustafsson at UFC 227 (Oezdemir is now out of that fight due to injury).
Smith has stepped in on short notice against Rua, saving the main event in what will be the biggest fight of his career.
Rua won the title in 2010, but quickly relinquished the crown to Jon Jones, who then went on his historic run at light heavyweight. Rua has been inconsistent since, going 6-5, including his current winning streak. In a long career, he has defeated fighters such as Forrest Griffin, Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, Lyoto Machida, Chuck Liddell, Mark Coleman, Alistair Overeem, Quinton Jackson and Kevin Randleman.
Rua has an even greater incentive to win on Sunday after being mentioned by champion Daniel Cormier as possibly the next fighter to get a shot at the title.
Cormier recently said on Ariel Helwani’s MMA Show, “Maybe I’ll go fight Shogun, that would be good. I’m serious, maybe I will go fight Shogun because Shogun has won a lot of fights in a row.
“You know what, that’s who I want to fight. Shogun wins, I wanna fight Shogun.”
Could his fight against Smith be a title eliminator for Rua? Rua believes this to be true.
”I think Cormier is a great athlete, a complete fighter,” Rua told MMA Fighting. “Winning this fight I absolutely deserve this chance because of my history and my career in MMA.”
Smith is 5-3 in the UFC and most recently defeated former champion Rashad Evans by first-round knockout at UFC 225 in June. Hamburg is a quick turn-around for Smith, but he finished Evans quickly and didn’t take any damage in the process.
The win against Evans (who has since retired) puts a recognizable name on Smith’s resume, but a victory over Rua would without a doubt be a launching pad for the 29-year-old. Aside Evans, Smith has a win over Hector Lombard, but has mostly fought against lesser competition.
Smith wasn’t happy about Cormier’s comments on possibly facing Rua.
“I don’t know what’s going on with Daniel Cormier, but he’s been saying recently that he thinks that ‘Shogun’ is next in line and completely dismissing the fact that ‘Shogun’ has to fight me,” Smith told Fightful’s James Lynch. “I’m not sure what DC’s problem is. He’s smarter than that.
“He’s an analyst. He knows that anybody can lose at any point in time. But he’s also smart enough to know that I’m more than capable of walking right through ‘Shogun.’ He knows that that’s a possibility…For him to completely dismiss me, number one, it pisses me off, and number two, it also puts me in a position where, if you think ‘Shogun’ is next in line and I go in and I starch ‘Shogun,’ what does that say? Me and you are together now, b-tch.”
Although it’s extremely ambitious, it’s unlikely a win over Rua would be enough to gain Smith a title shot. Nevertheless, it would certainly put him in prime position for a fight with another marquee name in the light heavyweight division.
Sunday’s co-main event will be another fight in the light heavyweight division between No. 3 Glover Teixeira and No. 9 Corey Anderson. Teixeira was originally scheduled to fight Ilir Latifi, but an injury forced Latifi to withdraw from the fight.
The 38-year-old Teixeira unsuccessfully challenged for the title in 2014, but has since been able to remain in the top five of the division. He hasn’t been able to generate a winning streak since 2016, but he’s coming off a first-round TKO of Misha Cirkunov in December. A win on Sunday would put him right back in the title conversation at 205 pounds.
Teixeira has victories over key names such as Rashad Evans, Ovince Saint Preux, Ryan Bader and Rampage Jackson. A loss would make it difficult for the Brazilian to realistically ever make it back into the title picture at his age.
Anderson is 2-3 in his last five fights, but he’s coming off a unanimous decision victory over Patrick Cummins in April. He has shown that he has the ability to outwork lesser competition, but when he fights anyone in the top 10 he comes up short.
Anderson has suffered two brutal knockout losses to Jimi Manuwa and Ovince Saint Preux in just a little over a year, which could make him vulnerable to an impressive power puncher such as Teixeira. If Anderson is successful on Sunday, it will likely be because of his wrestling and ability to control the fight on the ground. If the fight is on the feet, he’ll be at a definite disadvantage.
Also on the main card
Middleweight fight - Vitor Miranda vs. Abu Azaitar
Heavyweight fight - No. 9 Marcin Tybura vs. No. 13 Stefan Struve
Welterweight fight - Danny Roberts vs. David Zawada
Lightweight fight - Nasrat Haqparast vs. Marc Diakiese
Lightweight fight - Nick Hein vs. Damir Hadzovic
Welterweight fight - Emil Meek vs. Bartosz Fabinski
Featherweight fight - Khalid Taha vs. Nad Narimani
Light heavyweight fight - Justin Ledet vs. Aleksander Rakic
UFC Fight Pass Early Prelims
Bantamweight fight - Davey Grant vs. Manny Bermudez
Light heavyweight fight - Jeremy Kimball vs. Darko Stosic
Bantamweight fight - Damian Stasik vs. Pingyuan Liu
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