The UFC is set to return to Los Angeles on Saturday (October 24) for the first time in three years when Matt Hughs faced Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Royce Gracie at UFC 60.
Now, the MMA organization is already on UFC 104 where the undefeated light heavyweight champ, Lyoto “The Dragon” Machida, will take on Mauricio “Shogun” Rua — an anticipated showdown between two of the top fighters in their weight class.
Four years ago, when he entered the UFC, Shogun was regarded as the top light heavyweight fighters in the world. His first meeting was with “The Ultimate Fighter 1” winner Forrest Griffin, who upset Shogun by defeating him in a submission. Then, he was criticized in his next fight against a then-44-year-old Mark Coleman. While he defeated him, it was a lackluster performance.
His most recent bout was a devastating TKO win over the aging Chuck Liddell. Now, he has a shot to really show fans and critics the fighter he’s was always expected to be within the UFC. That’s if he can pull off a win against a very unorthodox and slippery opponent in Machida.
It’s not going to be an easy task though. The light heavyweight champ has proven that his mix of karate and Brazilian jiu-jitsu is a force to be reckoned with. In Machida’s last few fights, he put on dominating performances against some of the sport’s best — including a decision win over Tito Ortiz, and devastating KOs over the then-undefeated Thiago Silva and Rashad Evans.
While Machida’s speed, focus and timing should carry him to victory, Shogun could have a chance if he goes to the body since his head is usually perched away from opponents, says experts. Either way, Shogun has odds stacked against him. Machida is more than a 4-1 favorite going into Saturday.
Still he says he doesn’t feel any pressure. “I think that maybe because the pressure is on the favorite, he’s the one with the responsibility of proving people right, so it makes me fight without any pressure and I think it’s good,” Shogun said.
UFC president Dana White says the fight is not a mismatch though. During a press conference, he explained that Shogun as a long history in MMA, outside the UFC and is a capable fighter. New UFC fans just aren’t aware of some of his setbacks, such as two knee surgeries.
“A lot of the people don’t know Shogun, they know what they’ve seen of him in the UFC,” White said. “They don’t know the backstory that he had two knee surgeries and yeah, maybe he’s not getting that respect because of that. But people who are hardcore fans that have been watching for a long time and know the Shogun Rua from Pride know what he’s capable of. I’m pretty sure this is going to be the best Shogun we’re going to see since the Pride days.”
On Saturday, we’ll see if Shogun is as deadly as his Pride days, or if Machida can further dominate the light heavyweight division and defend his title for the first time.
What do you think?
On the undercard, we have a heavyweight bout between Cain Velasquez and Ben Rothwell, a lightweight bout between Joe Stevenson and Spencer Fisher, and several others.
UFC 104 goes down at 10 p.m. ET on pay-per-view, with a live preliminary show airing on Spike at 9 p.m. ET.