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Shogun not fooled by Machida again

Preview by Brady Crytzer

Their first meeting was one of the most controversial of 2009. After five brutal rounds it appeared as though the challenger had done enough to best the unbeaten champion. The judges didn’t agree. In an unusual circumstance, the fallen challenger Mauricio “Shogun” Rua was granted an immediate rematch against UFC light heavyweight champion Lyoto “The Dragon” Machida. Saturday night’s main event will feature two warriors seeking different types of respect. For the challenger, it’s vindication. For the champion, redemption. Let’s take a look at a rematch of one of last year’s best as Machida takes on “Shogun” at UFC 113.

Striking: To say that one of these fighters has better striking than the other would be an injustice as they are both highly effective on their feet. As this is a stylistic match up, it would be much more prudent to establish who has the best style for this fight. Although Machida has made a name for himself as a patient and pinpoint accurate counterpuncher, “Shogun” has proven that his wild style and natural hand speed can spell disaster for anyone that he fights. Both of these men make their opponents pay for their mistakes, but “Shogun” makes them pay harder as he can score a knockout with a single blow. Machida can finish fights with punches in laser beam bunches ala his title fight with Rashad Evans, but “Shogun” can do the same job with just one shot.

Machida is deadly accurate compared to the wilier “Shogun,” however that style will not benefit him in this fight. Rua will throw more punches and his natural speed will be the difference maker. It has proven to be effective before, and it will certainly make up for his lack of technical brilliance.

Grappling: The grappling portion of this fight is very similar to the stand up. Machida has shown that his “slow and steady” style of jiu jitsu can finish fights as he choked out Sokoudjou with a brilliant arm triangle in 2007, however he proved in his 2008 bout with Tito Ortiz that he can be too hesitant off of the draw as well. He missed the triangle on Ortiz because he over thought it. “Shogun” however has only submitted one opponent, but he has shown that his natural speed and athleticism allows him to find dominate positions and land devastating punches from the top position. In Japan Rua eviscerated opponents with kicks and knees while on top, but fighting under UFC rules greatly inhibits him.

“Shogun” is a buzzsaw from the top position, but North American rules eliminate some of his best weapons. With the loss of kicks and knees to a downed opponent, Machida’s submissions reign supreme in the grappling stanza.

How They Match Up
: The first fight had something for everyone…except and satisfying finish. Most fans watching on PPV and pundits watching at ringside thought that Rua should have won the decision, however the judges’ did not. While there are a lot of factors to consider in this light heavyweight showdown, one thing is certain…there will be a clear winner.

Two factors coincided that altered the course of their first meeting, and they were both vital to the outcome of the fight.

The first was the UFC hype machine transforming Machida into a surgically precise killer that not only destroys his opponents for making mistakes, but that is also incapable of making mistakes himself. Fans were excited by a fresh new style in the Octagon, and the angle was played to the point of exhaustion.

The second factor? “Shogun” bought the hype.

The human hurricane that is Mauricio “Shogun” Rua fought Machida with baited breath and handcuffed his performance with his own caution. The haymakers did not fly and Rua left his trademark style in the locker room.

Something very interesting happened in the fifth round of their last fight. After Machida tagged “Shogun” with good, solid punches, the challenger realized that hype is just hype, and that he could take the champion’s best.

Come Saturday night someone is going to step up and take command of this fight. My guess is that it will be “Shogun.” Rua will begin working early with hard kicks to the legs and body of Machida to soften the champion up. Look for Rua to turn up the gas in round three and look for the finish.

My guess is that he’ll get it. Shogun TKO 3.


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