UFC Light-Heavyweight Champion Lyoto “The Dragon” Machida (16-0) defended the belt that he won from Rashad Evans for the first time against Mauricio “Shogun” Rua (18-4) at UFC 104. Going in to this fight, Machida carried with him an aura of invincibility; he had demolished his last two opponents (Thiago Silva and Rashad Evans, respectively) using a style that seemed impossible to match and considering that Rua earned his title shot by defeating aging legends Mark Coleman and Chuck Liddell, many considered “Shogun” a heavy underdog.
“Shogun,” whom many had written off as being the same savage that wreaked havoc during his tenure in the PRIDE Fighting Championship, forced many to eat their words and put a serious crack in Machida’s unbeatable mystique by pushing the champion for five rounds and landing the most significant blows of the fight in the process. Despite landing more strikes and leaving Machida bruised and bleeding, all five judges inexplicably scored the fight in Machida’s favor.
The decision has been one of the most hotly contested in MMA history but no one was more surprised at the judge’s decision than Mauricio Rua.
“The feeling after the judge’s decision was announced was like someone tore out my heart,” Rua said during a pre-fight hype interview with the UFC.
Rua was understandably crushed and he credits his trainers and fans for getting him through the devastating loss.
“What gave me comfort was to see my cornermen support me, the crowd behind me thinking that I won the fight,” he said.
“When I went back to the hotel, the amount of care and support I got from the fans, everybody was telling me I won. This gave me some comfort and what matters the most is that I’m going to get a second chance.”
A controversial and high-profile loss like the one Rua suffered to Machida would keep many in a depressed state for some time, but the fact that Rua was awarded an immediate rematch with Machida at UFC 113 on May 8 keeps him positive and determined.
“I feel very motivated and I’m training very hard,” Rua said.
“For me [getting the rematch] was really a reason to celebrate and I’m going to do my best to come back with the belt this time.”
Normally a soft-spoken individual, Rua has a hard time of suppressing the underlying anger that is fueling his preparation for this fight.
“For this fight against Machida, I plan to do the same thing and it really bothers me that people don’t really give value to someone who is pressing the fight,” said “Shogun.” “I think people should reward it more because I really don’t understand how a guy that only walks backwards will be more recognized than someone who is pressing the fight and who is really trying to engage and make it a fight.”
For this fight, Rua is planning on using that anger to keep the fight out of the judge’s hands.
“I’m looking to make a statement with this fight and win it in a decisive way,” he said. “I’m a fighter that always fights to finish fights.”
Machida should be working hard on shoring his defense and formulating a new strategy to defeat “Shogun” because he is coming after Machida’s belt with a fire and intensity that Machida may never have seen before.
“Defeating Lyoto is my wish,” said Shogun. “It’s my dream. It’s my goal. And I’ll do everything I can to come back and make my wish come true.”