Lyoto “The Dragon” Machida’s reign as the UFC light heavyweight champion got off to a rocky start. After dismantling Rashad Evans at UFC 98 in May to win the title, Machida’s first title defense was against fellow Brazilian Mauricio “Shogun” Rua at UFC 104 last October. Machida was declared the winner via a unanimous decision in the five round battle but most observers felt that Rua was robbed of the decision. In an effort to quell the controversy, UFC president Dana White declared there would be a rematch when both fighters were healthy to fight.
Since the Rua fight, Machida had surgery on his hand. In an interview with MMAWeekly.com, Machida’s manager Ed Soares explained, “Before even the Rashad fight it was bothering him, and in between the Rashad and Shogun fights he went to a specialist down in Brazil. The specialist kind of pointed out the problems with it.”
Soares continued, “He had that mentality the show must go on. He just kind of roughed through it, but he said that this last training camp leading up to the Shogun fight there were a lot of times where he had problems. It would be hurting during training when he hit, and once he went to the specialist here they looked at it and they took care of it.”
Now Machida appears to be on the road to recovery. Soares confimred, “I just spoke with him and he’s already started hitting pads and hitting mits, and he says his hand feels great.”
Even Soares concedes that Machida didn’t look like the dominant fighter fans saw in his prior seven UFC fights. “It was obvious that, that wasn’t the best Lyoto that anybody has ever seen. And you’ve got to take your hat off to Shogun, because Shogun fought the best fight I’ve ever seen Shogun fight.”
Fortunately, the controversy surrounding Rua and Machida will be settled in the Octagon. Both fighters are scheduled to meet again at UFC 113 in Montreal on May 8th.