Mauricio "Shogun" Rua had the Brazilian crowd on its feet as he put together a rousing combination of punches to put Gian Villante away in the third round while notching his third straight victory inside the Octagon.
A legend of the Brazilian mixed martial arts scene, Rua seemed to feed off the crowd's energy while facing a fellow hard-hitting light heavyweight on Saturday night.
Long gone are the days when Rua could just put himself in harm's way and depend on his concrete chin to absorb punishment so he could return fire while standing directly in the pocket.
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That old school philosophy nearly cost Rua in the first round when he went into the cage guns blazing and Villante cracked him with a combination that put the former light heavyweight champion on his heels.
Villante made a crucial mistake in his next move after getting locked into the clinch with "Shogun," which gave the veteran fighter time to recover. Those few seconds of rest were more than enough as Rua came back out with a slick combination that dropped Villante to the mat as the Brazilian crowd came unglued.
It only took a moment for Villante to get back to his feet, but that combination definitely gave Rua confidence going into the second round.
"Shogun" continued his assault with hard, stinging combinations but Villante wouldn't be deterred and kept returning fire in response to his opponent's offensive output.
As time ticked away into the third round, Rua was definitely landing the cleaner punches while stopping short of allowing Villante to do the same in return. With each combination landed, Rua's confidence grew and he finally saw an opening to bring about the end of the fight.
After clipping Villante with a hard punch from the outside, the New Yorker started backing up -- which was a signal for Rua to go on the attack. "Shogun" came after him with a blistering series of punches that trapped Villante against the cage until he finally ate one too many shots and fell to the ground.
The referee swooped in to stop the fight before Villante could take any undue damage.
The win put Rua at 3-0 in his past three performances, which is actually the longest streak he's put together under the UFC banner.