Benji Radach (18-4 MMA) vs. Murilo “Ninja” Rua (16-8-1 MMA)
This is one of the best middleweight fights you will ever see outside of the UFC. These two 185lbers are some of the most exciting stand up fighters in MMA. We have a fighter on the comeback trail to elite status versus another on a quest to reclaim his title belt. Both have slick striking with knockout power and cement chins. This has potential to be fight of the night and steal the show.
Benji Radach was a highly touted prospect early in his career who started off on a nine fight winning streak. He took the step up in competition to the UFC and did well, taking his first loss on a hard fought bout with Sean Sherk that ended with a cut. Not losing any luster off his promising status, Radach moved forward and continued to win at smaller shows. Then his life changed when he took a fight with Chris Leben in 2004. Leben shattered Radach’s jaw which managed to start a chain reaction of injuries that kept Radach out of MMA for almost 3 years. A broken jaw, a herniated disc that caused partial paralysis, a spider bite that created a large hole in his leg, a torn meniscus that required knee surgery, and a staph infection from hell that almost caused his arm to be amputated. They all helped to keep him sidelined until Bas Rutten and the IFL came a calling in 2007. He rattled off five straight wins in the IFL until his championship loss to Matt Horwich last December.
Radach is an excellent wrestler but an even better boxer. He has fantastic hands, but it was his devastating knockout power that put Radach on the map. He has since turn into a pretty good all-around kickboxer with decent ground skills. His wrestling enables Radach to stay out of trouble on the ground and he wins most scrambles for position. His guard is strictly defensive, he will not threaten to many submissions from his back. He also uses his wrestling in reverse to prevent the takedown and keep the fight standing.
Ninja Rua is a Pride veteran and an original member of the famed Chute Boxe academy in Brazil. Ninja started his career with much ballyhoo and delivered with exciting fights. He was an exciting Muay Thai fighter with amazing cardio and fantastic Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. His first loss was a split decision to Dan Henderson, but the fight that really put Ninja on the map was his win over Zen master Mario Sperry. Sperry represented the rival fight team in Brazil, Brazilian Top Team. The fight was not just between to spectacular fighters, but two fight teams and their way of lives. Ninja triumphed in a fantastic decision victory and announced that Rua was the man to beat. But as happened often in his career, every time Rua took a step forward he then took two steps backward. He had several disappointing losses that always seemed to keep him from elite status, but the biggest hit to his mystique was his 15 second knockout loss to Denis Kang. After that fight he ventured from Pride to find his own way. He seemed to finally find the validation he was seeking when he won the middleweight belt in EliteXC by beating Joey Villasenor. But in true ninja fashion he followed one big step forward with a big step backwards in the form of a loss to Robbie Lawler.
Ninja is an excellent kickboxer and Muay Thai fighter, as well as a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. He is an fantastic improvisational fighter and is wonderful at winning the scrambles. He is a superb grappler and capable of submitting someone from any position in the fight. His biggest advantage might be his conditioning as he can put a pace on a fighter that they cannot hope to rival. His conditioning can also cause his biggest error, and that is over aggressiveness. He sometimes rushes head first into trouble and can get caught with strikes. He seems to have settled down with age and maturity, but he still seems impatient at times.
This fight is seemingly for the number one contender spot in the middleweight division. Winner most likely will get a shot at Robbie Lawler. As much fun as Ninja is to watch fight, Radach has the power, the patience, and the wrestling to win the scrambles. I see Radach grinding out a decision victory over Rua. Ninja is extremely tough to finish, even with Radach’s power. Rua could catch Radach in a submission, maybe pick off an arm. But this matchup favors Radach and his controlling patient style of fighting. I think the smart move for Rua would be to take the fight to the floor and do the damage from within the guard, but ninja is too aggressive for that. I think he will want to stand and bang with Radach, and that will prove to be his undoing. I think Radach wins this via split decision.