During one of the many extended commercial breaks during Saturday night’s The Ultimate Fighter 9 Finale, UFC president Dana White made several announcements regarding several of the UFC’s biggest stars. As reported last night, White confirmed on Burger King’s Inside the Octagon that newly crowned light heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida will be defending his title against Mauricio “Shogun” Rua at UFC 104. “The next title shot is going to be Machida vs. Shogun and the fight is going to be at the Staples Center (in Los Angeles), October 24th,” said White of the UFC 104 main event.
Although Machida possesses a perfect 15-0 professional mark, it wasn’t until his recent spree of finishes that UFC fans recognized the Brazilian as one of the world’s best mixed martial artists.
“Chuck Liddell was no barn burner, Randy Couture, Matt Hughes, none of those guys were knocking people out and having exciting fights when they first came in,” White added about Machida’s evolution. “I knew that it would be a little bit of a process before Machida felt at home.”
As far as Shogun, it took one impressive knockout of Liddell at UFC 97 to prove to the UFC brass that he has returned to his pre-two knee surgery/PRIDE form when he was the world’s top ranked 205-pounder.
“A year and a half ago, people were saying this guy is the best light heavyweight in the world. He’s still the same guy. What you have to understand is, he had a long layoff. He had a couple of knee surgeries,” White said of Shogun’s recent issues with the injury bug. “He looked good in the Liddell fight. The key to Shogun is keeping him busy.”
Speaking of Liddell, White wasn’t as quick to put The Iceman’s career on ice, even though White has been adamant about not having his long-time friend endure any more unnecessary punishment inside the cage.
Instead of insisting that the former UFC light heavyweight champ was done, White simply stated that it was ultimately Chucky’s decision to pull the plug on his illustrious career, and although he runs the world’s largest MMA promotion, he isn’t about to tell Liddell what to do.
In addition, as mentioned last night, the brash President stated they were still scouring the globe for middleweight fighters to challenge Anderson Silva for his strap. White went old school with it, as he said Affliction Entertainment’s Vitor Belfor could be making a return to the Octagon.
Belfort was one of the UFC’s very first stars, even capturing the 205-lb title for a brief period in 2004. He is slated to face Jorge Santiago at Affliction: Trilogy on August 1st inside the Honda Center in Anaheim, California.