Former UFC light-heavyweight champion Mauricio "Shogun" Rua said today that he turned down a fight with Glover Teixeira at UFC 149 because Texeira didn't offer the kind of name recognition that would advance his career.
"Since Teixeira has only one fight on his UFC record, my crew didn't think that was interesting to fight him at this time," Rua told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com
) through a translator.
Rua denied telling UFC president Dana White he would rather be cut from the UFC than take the fight, as MMAjunkie.com previously reported.
"That was a miscommunication," Rua said.
Teixiera (18-2 MMA, 1-0 UFC) was proposed as a replacement after Rua's original opponent, Thiago Silva, was forced to withdraw from UFC 149 with a back injury. After Rua (20-6 MMA, 4-4 UFC) turned down the fight, he was re-booked opposite Brandon Vera (12-5 MMA, 8-5 UFC) in a UFC on FOX 4 headliner when the original main event, Brian Stann vs. Hector Lombard, was scratched due to injury.
"It's one of those very weird situations to hear one of the top-five guys in the world say, 'I'd rather be cut than fight a guy who isn't ranked,' and the reason they were saying that was, 'Oh, he's not top 10,'" White said following this month's UFC on FX 3 event. "But then we offered him Vera, and he took it in two seconds – and Vera isn't top 10 either."
Rua pointed out that Silva also isn't ranked in the top 10.
"But [Silva and Vera] do have a record in the UFC," he said. "Everybody knows them. That was the difference."
He said he was adamant from the get-go about not taking a fight with Teixeira, who made a long-awaited promotional debut at UFC 146 and earned an impressive first-round submission victory over Kyle Kingsbury.
"I made it clear to my crew and the UFC that I wasn't interested in fighting Teixeira at this moment but I would entertain that idea in the near future after a couple of more fights," Rua said. "The only reason is he has a short history in the UFC, and he's not very well known so far."
White, however, was unmoved by that reasoning.
"Me and (UFC CEO) Lorenzo (Fertitta) said, 'Look, you can't turn down fights at this level. The money you're making and where you are ranked in the world, you don't turn down fights at this level. We might have to cut you,'" White said. "[Rua] said, 'I'd rather be cut than fight him.'"
But instead, Rua will fight Vera, whom he said is a better option.
"I'm happy fighting Brandon Vera because he has good muay Thai," Rua said. "He's very known with the UFC, and he was part of several important events in the UFC. He has way more impact than the other fighters, so that's the reason why we decided to fight him."