This Saturday, Lyoto “the Dragon” Machida (15-0) will defend his light heavyweight title for the first time against former PRIDE star Mauricio “Shogun” Rua (18-3) at UFC 104 in Los Angeles. Machida captured the coveted 205 pound crown at UFC 98 by knocking out Rashad Evans with a flurry of punches in the second round. Rua is coming off two straight wins over UFC Hall of Famers Mark Coleman and Chuck Liddell. While his 2-1 record in the UFC hasn’t been overly impressive, Rua does own wins over Strikeforce heavyweight champion Allistair Overeem, Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, Ricardo Arona, Antonio Rogerio Nogueira and a host of other elite fighters from his days with PRIDE in Japan.
At an open workout at the Black House Gym in Gardena, California, Ed Soares, the manager and translator for Machida, answered questions from the media ahead of the bout this weekend.
One topic discussed was the unique mixture of elusiveness and striking that has helped Machida to accumulate a 7-0 record within the UFC. Soares described Machida’s style of karate stating, “The main philosophy is not just strength. It’s not just technique. It’s a combination of three things. Which is technique. Your mental. And your physical. And once you have those three working together balanced that’s what makes the difference. That’s the philosophy of Machida karate.”
Machida chimed in himself, “I”m ready for any situation but my background is karate. I push the fight for my style”
Early in his career and before he joined the UFC, Machida defeated Rich Franklin and Stephan Bonnar by TKO and won a decision over B.J. Penn. Since his arrival in the UFC, Machida has defeated Tito Ortiz, Thiago Silva, Sokoudjou and other notable fighters. When Soares was asked about who Machida would care to face after Rua, he stated, “No one in particular. Who ever the UFC puts in front of us is fine with us. Just he won’t fight Anderson (Silva). That’s the one guy he won’t fight.”
It seems as though any conversation regarding MMA eventually covers the topic of contraversial heavyweight Fedor Emelianenko. Soares commented, “Fedor has proven a lot in his career. Look at the win streak that he has. But lately he hasn’t really proven that he’s fought the best competition out there. So you know, I think the sport is always evolving. And in the past two years, the sport has evolved tremendously. So it’s really hard to say that he’s the best heavyweight in the world when he hasn’t really competed against the best guys in the world.”
Being the champion in one of the UFC’s most stacked divisions provides a fighter with significant financial opportunities. Soares explained that Machida’s motivation is beyond monetary. “He’s not chasing money. The money he feels is chasing him. He’s chasing his dream which is to be the best fighter in the world. And that’s what he’s doing.”
Machida will have his chance to prove he is the best in the world again when he squares off against “Shogun” Rua this Saturday at UFC 104.