The “Machida Era” barely survived an onslaught from Mauricio Shogun Rua at UFC 104. Rua brutalized Lyoto Machida for five-rounds with strikes and kicks, yet it wasn’t enough. The judges shockingly gave Lyoto Machida a unanimous decision win. The decision was met with over 17,000 boos, as the fans and most watching at home felt that Shogun was robbed.
This was a very intense fight that never went to the ground in five rounds. Both fighters tried several times to take the other down, yet the only time any fighter hit the ground was Machida who slipped. Shogun said in the pre-fight that he was going to be patient and react rather than rush Machida. Machida tried to follow his usual game plan of quick striking in and out, but realized early that Shogun Rua is no Rashad Evans.
[adinserter block=”1″]Shogun brutalized Machida with body and leg kicks for the entire fight. Shogun rarely tried to hit the head and stuck the body. Machida’s ribs looked purple by the end of the fight, while his legs were colored red/purple as well. It was obvious from the second round on, that Shogun’s confidence grew and Machida was hurting. Shogun also nailed Machida with several vicious knees to his thigh and knee. Both men looked ready to go a sixth round, yet there wasn’t a doubt in the building that Shogun had won the fight.
Machida tried to follow his usual stick and move, but Shogun timed him perfectly and countered with kicks. The announcers constantly put over Shogun after most of the exchanges as the fighter who got the better of the two. I will say this about Machida. Machida started timing Shogun and would nail him with a flurry of punches as opposed to a hard kick or two from Shogun during the exchanges. I thought there were several occasions that the announcers got it wrong and Machida had won the exchange. In the end, the judges agreed with me and the announcers were left dumbfounded.
Even without winning the fight, Shogun won the night. Shogun was a -500 underdog coming into the fight. Shogun walked out of the building at UFC 104 as the people’s champion. Shogun also showed that he is no joke and is finally living up the Pride FC reputation that he had when UFC signed him. In my mind, Shogun went from high mid-carder to a drawing main-event superstar. In the end, he may have won more by not winning the UFC light heavyweight title after this kind of a fight.
As for Machida, it was definitely not his night. Even with the win, his unbeatable aura is undoubtedly over. Shogun showed that Machida is human and beatable. Shogun laid out a great blueprint for future challengers on how to beat Machida. Looking at this fight and the blue print, Forrest Griffin immediately comes to mind as a guy that can beat Lyoto Machida. Griffin is the only UFC light heavyweight (other than Anderson Silva) who has the kicking skills and background to follow this kind of a game plan against Machida. Griffin has a long way to go in rehabilitating his image, and could do so immediately with a Lyoto Machida match.
The Ultimate Fighting Championship actually wound up winning out in the end. Dana White will tell you how upset he is, but the bottom line here is that they have a mega rematch waiting to happen. Without an Anderson Silva-Lyoto Machida fight possible, there was nothing juicy on the table for Machida. The UFC could possibly have a trilogy on their hands that could rival some of the greatest trilogies in MMA history. Whether Shogun wins or loses the rematch, the UFC also has a superstar in Rua. I can’t see Rua going into any fight as a -500 underdog ever again.
<!–adsense–>On a side note, Steve Mazzagatti continues living up to his moniker as the worst official in professional sports. The guy is either the least competent official ever, or just has the worst luck in the world. Mazzagatti stopped the Ben Rothwell-Cain Velasquez fight in the second round. Rothwell was getting hammered, yet stayed on his feet and was working out of it. The irony here is that you could make a case that the fight should have been stopped a few times in Round 1, but not here. No doubt that Velasquez was dominating the fight, but you never know what can happen in MMA. All it takes is a lucky shot from a guy with the power of Rothwell to turn the fight around.
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