UFC 113 is headlined by one of the most desired re-matches in recent MMA history. Lyoto Machida (16-0) defends his Light Heavyweight Title once again, against the challenger Mauricio “Shogun” Rua (18-4). Machida earned a controversial decision victory in their previous match up. Many people, including UFC President Dana White thought that Shogun won the fight. This Saturday the two get back in the cage, but this time Shogun will have his hand raised.
Shogun utilized a near perfect game plan against The Dragon in their previous bout at UFC 104 in October. Knowing that Machida is most effective when he utilizes counters, and waits for his opponents to make mistakes (this Chuck Liddell in his prime), Shogun did not get too aggressive and charge after the Champ. Instead Shogun kept a medium distance and contacted on numerous vicious leg strikes.
Keith Jardine used this same technique against Liddell and actually earned a decision victory. That was a 3 round fight. Shogun should do more of the same, but he must change things up as his previous game plan did not win the fight. (Although Dana White, Rampage Jackson, Randy Couture, Wanderlei Silva, Vitor Belfort and others all felt that Shogun won).
Both men are Black Belts in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, so both are comfortable on the ground, however they have a combined 3 submissions wins between the two of them. In the last fight, all 25 minutes, we did not see the action go to the ground. It’s hard to say who would have the advantage.
These are, in my opinion, the two best Light Heavyweights in the world today. They each have outstanding resumes, having beaten the top guys for years. Joe Rogan stated after Lyoto won the title against Rashad Evans, “Welcome to the Machida Era!” He could be right. But I don’t think he was counting on seeing the same Shogun Rua who won the Pride 205 LB Grand Prix and had devastating wins over Rampage Jackson, Alistair Overeem, and Ricardo Arona to come back.
Well after a loss to Forrest Griffin in his UFC debut and so-so performance in a win over Mark Coleman. Shogun has returned. He knocked out Liddell and then nearly captured the most difficult belt to defend.
I truly believe that Shogun is in Machida’s head. It may sound crazy for an undefeated fighter to fear anyone, but Machida had never been pushed like that in any of his UFC fights. He had broken ribs, a cut face, and bruised legs after the fight. He was pushed to the brink in a 25 minute fight, and had to wait, not knowing the outcome, to hear Bruce Buffer announce his name. Even though he won, Shogun proved to everyone that The Dragon is not invincible.
Shogun had to wait over 6 months to get his re-match, but he will make the most of it. I believe he will use much of the 1st fight’s game plan with a new element. Perhaps a take down, punch combos, etc. Machida has to be wondering, and that plays right into the challenger’s hands. There is no reason to think that Shogun can’t dominate the UFC the same way he did Pride. His title reign begins on Saturday.
Prediction: Shogun def. Machida via TKO in the 4th round.