Light heavyweight champ, Lyoto Machida, retained his title against Mauricio “Shogun” Rua at UFC 104 on Saturday night (October 24), but it was by a narrow margin — in a controversial unanimous decision.
All three judges rewarded the champion with a 48-47 advantage on their scorecards. However, it received boos from the crowd.
Although Rua didn’t win the match, he won over the crowd at Los Angeles’ Staples Center with his performance. And, his game plan may be one challengers in the future may adopt, since no one has been able to figure out Machida’s karate-based style to date.
As experts suggested prior to the fight, Rua concentrated his offense on Machida’s body and legs, in an attempt to negate the champ’s footwork and positioning. Guess what? It worked for the most part. He also rarely attempted take downs, while also staying away from Machida’s counterpunching strengths.
His performance against Machida was the best we’ve seen, compared to the champ’s previous opponents, proving Machida isn’t invincible after all.
It was Round 4 where Rua seemed to take over, landing more and more of his strikes. Then, in the final round, it was apparent, Machida was tiring. He was bleeding from his mouth and struggling to keep his hands up, putting him on the defense for once.
When the final bell rang, Rua threw his hands into the air and celebrated victory with his corner. But, the judges didn’t see it that way, and awarded the win to Machida.
“My corner told me that I was winning all the rounds,” Rua said. “I feel like I won this fight, but a fight is a fight. What can I do?”
With a controversal win as his first title defense, a humbled Machida said a rematch was definitely in their future.
“Whenever he wants, I’ll try again,” Machida said. “No problem.”
On the undercard, Cain Velasquez stopped Ben Rothwell 58 seconds into the second round of their heavyweight bout with strikes, as he pinned Rothwell against the cage and landed numerous left hands.