(Murilo ‘Ninja’ Rua, who takes on Tom Watson tomorrow night)
Although it has been the younger of the Rua brothers that has had most of the headlines in recent times, tomorrow night Murilo ‘Ninja’ Rua will take to the cage as the main event in London at BAMMA 6. A proud owner of one of the most exciting fight resumes out there, Rua has faced the likes of Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson, Ricardo Arona and Dan Henderson in a storied career.
A victor in four of his last five outings, ‘Ninja’ now returns to the English capital to take on the top-ranked middleweight still fighting on home soil in Tom ‘Kong’ Watson. We managed to catch up with Rua before the bout to get his take on a return to England – where he had several successful outings under the Cage Rage banner – and his upcoming adversary, Watson.
FIGHT!: Murilo, you’re heading back over to the UK to fight for the first time since you featured on Cage Rage four years ago. How does it feel to be returning to fight in London and for the British fans? Do you have find memories of your previous fights here?
Murilo ‘Ninja’ Rua: It feels great. I have great memories from fighting in the UK, and I love the British fans. Before fighting in Cage Rage I had already visited the country for seminars, and have some good friends in England like Robbie Olivier. Fighting in London, at Cage Rage, was always great as well as I won all my fights in the country and had always wanted to come back. I’m glad BAMMA is stepping up and becoming the premiere European show, and I can’t wait for the fight!
This time you’ll be taking on Tom ‘Kong’ Watson at BAMMA 6 for their middleweight title. Does the belt make it mean more to you, or is it more the calibre of opponent that gets you excited for the fight?
It’s both, I always loved to fight the best and everybody knows I always fought the toughest guys around, but the belt also has a very special meaning. As a fighter, you fight for that! You fight to test yourself and to build your own legacy, and the belts brings a real meaning to it. I wanted to have fought for the Cage Rage belt back in the past, and after my fight with Pokam I was supposed to fight for the belt next. Unfortunately the show ended, and I never got my chance, so this kind of brings me that chance back.
You’ve had a good run of form recently, with four wins from your last five fights and all of those have come via stoppage. How are you feeling coming into this bout and how have you been preparing for Watson?
I’m feeling great. I know Tom is a very good fighter, also very tough and always brings it. This has potential to be a great fight and I have been preparing as always, training hard in all areas as it’s the only way to be prepared for such a fight.
Tom is known as a striker but has also shown himself to be versatile when facing grapplers. Do you think this will make for an exciting fight on the feet, or will you be trying to test him in all ranges?
I think this is a tough test for both of us in all areas. You can’t predict what is going to happen and, as I said, I have to be ready for everything. Wherever the fight goes it’ll be a battle, and we will only know when we fight on May 21st!
What do you believe to be his main strengths?
I think he is already experienced, strong and aggressive. He is well rounded and “cage aware”, and I believe he is a very good opponent for anyone at this weight class.
You’ve faced some of the best names in the business like Dan Henderson, Quinton Jackson, Paulo Filho and Robbie Lawler. Because of your exposure in Pride FC and big fights against these well recognised names, do you think Watson is hoping to gain some popularity by trying to beat you?
I think Tom wants to build his career and keep his belt, in the same way I want to build my career and get the belt. It’s the nature of the game. When you become a known veteran people will always see you as an opportunity, in the same way there are a lot of guys in Europe who see fighting Tom as an opportunity for them as well. For me, I think it’s a great fight at a great show and it’s a good opportunity for both of us, as BAMMA is really stepping up and becoming one of the best shows in the world.
You have some team mates on the BAMMA 6 fight card as well as yourself. How do you see them getting on in their bouts?
Joao Paulo “Tuba” has been deserving a chance to fight abroad for a long time. He is a great training partner not only to myself, but one of the main training partners for my brother Mauricio, as he is a very calm and technical striker. He has also been a cornerman for my brother for a good while, so even though he is yet to fight abroad, he is pretty experienced already in big shows. Plus, he was supposed to fight in the cancelled Shine Fights card, and was warming up in the locker room when the show got cancelled, so he is hungry for this chance and I expect him to take advantage of the opportunity. Marcio Cesar is also an experienced guy who was part of Chute Boxe in the past as well, and has had international experience already. He is the guy that trains the most at our team, day in and day out, and he helps everybody even when he doesn’t have any fight signed, so he really deserved a chance at this stage for a while, and they are well trained and ready! They’ll bring great fights!
Thanks Murilo, all the best in the fight. Any last words for the UK fans?
Thanks for all the support I always received in the country through all those years. I can’t wait to be back in the UK and fight again. Like I said, I have great memories and I hope to see you all at the Wembley arena on May 21st. We got to support this great card so BAMMA will get bigger and produce great quality fights all the time. See you in London!
BAMMA showcase a great sixteen-fight card from Wembley arena tomorrow night and there are ways to get involved even if you can’t be at the live show.
BAMMA 6: Live at Wembley Arena, Saturday 21st May.
Buy tickets from: www.ticketmaster.co.uk
UK FANS: Watch Live Exclusively only on Syfy at 9pm Sky/HD 114, Virgin TV 135 and TalkTalk 22.
Head to BAMMA.TV to stream the event live worldwide.