Mauricio “Shogun” Rua vs. Gian Vilante
The co main event of UFC Fight Night 106 sees former UFC Light Heavyweight and Pride champion Mauricio “Shogun” Rua, take on Gian Vilante. Both men will be looking to climb the UFC Light Heavyweight rankings and break into the upper echelons of the division.
Can Shogun make it three wins in a row?
Rua started his MMA career in 2002 and mostly fought for the Japanese organisation Pride where he won the Middleweight Grand Prix. After amassing a very respectable record, he joined the UFC in September of 2007, losing in his debut fight with the promotion to Forrest Griffin at UFC 76, to the surprise of many. He eventually captured the UFC Light Heavyweight title at UFC 113 defeating Lyoto Machida by KO in the first round. After dropping the belt to Jon Jones in his following fight, he has since notched up a record of five wins and five losses, but has had somewhat of resurgence of late, winning his last two. After a TKO loss in his rematch with Dan Henderson, and a demoralising 34 second KO defeat to Ovince Saint Preux http://www.bloodyelbow.com/2014/11/9/7180141/ufc-results-shogun-rua-ovince-saint-preux (both of which were main events in his home country of Brazil), he has responded well. In his last outing, Rua defeated Corey Anderson via Split Decision at UFC 198, and before that Antonio Rogerio Nogueira (Lil’ Nog) by Unanimous Decision at UFC 190. Now, Rua will be looking to make it three straight wins in the Light Heavyweight division and get back into the top five rankings.
Will Vilante get the biggest win of his career?
Vilante has a UFC record of five wins and four losses. The tough New Yorker has faced some talented fighters and all of his UFC losses have come to recognised opponents in the MMA world. His most recent defeat came at the hands of Ilir Latifi at UFC 196 in March of last year. During this contest, Vilante was completely out- grappled by the stocky Swede and was on the receiving end of a spectacular belly-to-back suplex – http://www.foxsports.com/ufc/story/ufc-196-ilir-latifi-slams-home-a-unanimous-decision-win-over-gian-villante-030516. Vilante’s last performance however was an impressive second round TKO victory over the somewhat unknown Saparbek Safarov at UFC Fight Night 102 in December 2016. If Vilante can overcome Rua on Saturday, it will certainly be the biggest win of his career to date.
The Brazilian Factor
Interestingly, Vilante’s last contest in Brazil drew probably one of his worst performances. Back at UFC Fight Night 38, Vilante faced Fabio Maldonado, who was fighting on home turf. On the night, Vilante fatigued early and ultimately lost a lopsided unanimous decision to the mediocre Maldonado. This was however, the first time Vilante had fought professionally outside of the U.S. and perhaps that’s why he did not perform at his best on the night. You can only assume that since then he has worked relentlessly on improving his cardio and has not shown signs of tiring in recent appearances.
Saturday will mark the fifth straight fight Rua has had in his home country and he will undoubtedly have the passionate Brazilian fans behind him. I anticipate a very hostile atmosphere for Vilante with chants of “Uh via morrer!” (“You will die!”) more than likely being directed his way. However, if he can add Rua’s legendary name to his list of wins it will be fascinating to see who Vilante could potentially face next.
UFC Fight Night 106 takes place March 11th from the Centro de Formacao Olimpica do Nordetse in Fortaleza, Brazil.