[Sponsored] Maurício “Shogun” Rua, a former light heavyweight champion of the Ultimate Fighting Championship, will face Ovince Saint Preux, currently ranked seventh in the weight division, at Saitama Super Arena on September 23. The bout will headline UFC Fight Night Japan — the fifth-ever event hosted in Japan by the Las Vegas-based promotion — and for good reason: the two men have squared off once before, and Shogun is looking for revenge.
Saint Preux, also known as OSP, knocked out Shogun in 34 seconds in their last fight back in 2014 in Uberlândia, Brazil. It was a bitter home ground loss for Shogun, a native of Curitiba, Brazil, though a chance to rematch in Japan is a symbolic one. Shogun has had the biggest wins of his career in Japan, where he previously fought under the Japanese promotion PRIDE Fighting Championship, and Saitama Super Arena is something of a spiritual home for him, where he is undefeated with eight wins.
“I fought him in Brazil where he has a lot of fans,” said OSP of Shogun at a press conference in Tokyo in July. “Japan is like a second home for him, he made a name for himself here, and so I have no added pressure towards me, the pressure is on him. It’s almost like a homecoming for him.”
OSP seems to be regaining his form since stopping his three-loss streak earlier in the year with a win over Marcos Rogério de Lima. Shogun, on the other hand, is on a winning streak since his fight with OSP, though he has only fought three times since the Uberlândia bout. In any case, the fight offers plenty to be excited about, and Japanese fans of Shogun will surely be hoping for a redemptive narrative.
The fight card will also see matchups between: flyweights Naoki Inoue and Jenel Lausa; women’s strawweights Chan-Mi Jeon and Syuri Kondo; flyweights Jussier Formiga and Ulka Sasaki, who is one of the rising stars of the Japanese mixed martial arts scene; and lightweights Dong Hyun Kim and Takanori Gomi, a legendary Japanese mix martial arts fighter.
The mix of domestic and local Asian talent in the fight card of UFC Fight Night Japan reflects the organization’s growth as a truly international sports brand. The UFC, already the biggest MMA promotion in the world, has in recent years looked to enter new markets, hosting events in many countries around the globe. This event will be the second hosted by UFC in Asia this year, following UFC Fight Night Singapore in June.
And with fighting in the world’s biggest promotion comes bigger ambitions: “I would like to one day be as big as Conor McGregor,” said Inoue at the press event.
Sep 23, 8:30am (door opens 8am), Starting at ¥5,000. Saitama Super Arena, 8 Shintoshin, Chuo-ku, Saitama-shi. Nrst Stn: Saitama-Shintoshin. Click here to purchase tickets. For more information, visit the official website.
*NOTE: Due to injury, Maurício “Shogun” Rua has been pulled from the fight card. Yushin Okami (pictured left), a former UFC fighter, will replace Rua in the fight against Ovince Saint Preux.