UFC 104 is upon us and I can’t wait to see the main event between light heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida (15-0) and fellow Brazilian striker Mauricio Rua (18-3). I have been a fan of Shogun since the days of Pride and since his TKO of Chuck Liddel at UFC 97, Shogun seems to be back in top striking form. Will Shogun’s conditioning betray him? We shall see.
Machida has always impressed me with his style of range fighting. Entering the UFC Octagon in 2007, Machida became known as a technical but boring fighter. The majority of the UFC fan base rewards aggressive, dominant fighting styles and Machida’s karate based style was not a fan favorite. Machida’s bout with Tito Ortiz seemed to be a turning point in the mass acceptance of Machida Karate. Love him or hate him, Tito Ortiz is a legend in MMA and Machida’s dominance over Ortiz legitimized the Machida fighting style.
Always criticized for going the distance, Machida began a strength training program to give his game knockout power. We all know what happened to Thiago Silva and Rashad Evans. What’s my prediction?
Lyoto Machida will find his range early on in the fight. Shogun will try and cut off the ring but will find himself getting more and more tired chasing a ghost as the rounds progress. Shogun’s style of striking, power shots at the expense of leaving wide open gaps, is perfect for The Dragon’s precise counter punching. Machida wins late in the second round via TKO. 4 more successful title defenses and Lyoto fights heavyweight Goliath Brock Lesnar.
But then again, the small gloves of MMA gives everyone a chance for a surprise knockout…but not tomorrow night.
For a great primer on UFC 104 check out my favorite MMA site, Sherdog.com!