UFC 113: Rematch, grudge match and Kimbomania

June 5, 2010

Mauricio Rua could remain bitter if he wanted to. It was seven months ago when the majority of those who watched him challenge Lyoto Machida for the light-heavyweight championship believed that Shogun had finally been the one to slay the Dragon, the one who cracked Machida’s invincible aura, who figured out Machida Karate and ended the Machida Era before it got going.

 

Three people, the ones whose opinions mattered more than anyone else’s, were the ringside judges who collectively determined that Machida was the better man at UFC 104 – unanimously. Shock, incredulity, anger, everything but a near-riot contaminated the Staples Center.

 

Shogun quickly let it go. He has incentive going into the main event of UFC 113 Saturday in Montreal, a coveted second chance.

 

“The biggest proof that this was a controversial fight was the fact that a rematch was set up immediately,” Rua said through translator Ed Soares during a conference call. “This is all in the past for me right now. And what gives me comfort is the fact that I’m having another shot at a title and I’ll fight for the world championship again.”

 

Rua added he feels no pressure to finish the fight and prevent a new threesome of subjective observers decide a winner and loser. He’ll have to find a way to win, period, because even though he put a scare into the champion he remains the underdog. Machida knows he could have left Los Angeles a defeated, former champion, and you know what’s said about how the great ones respond from a setback. How much better Machida can be is a scary proposition.

 

“One of the main things about a championship bout is that you do go five rounds,” Machida said through Soares. “And we've trained that a lot. I'm always confident but it does make me feel confident that I went in there and fought for five rounds. And I'm prepared to go, step in there and give it my best.”

 

If you’re compelled to pick Rua to take the rematch, go ahead. He won PRIDE Fighting Championship's 2005 Middleweight Grand Prix and holds notable wins over Chuck Liddell, Quinton Jackson, Alistair Overeem and Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, and believes he’s completed the transition from the ring to the cage.

 

“I have a better notion of space, a better octagon control, because I have an octagon with the UFC size in my academy, and I think that changes a lot of my training and my preparation,” Rua said.

 

***

 

Paul Daley not only wins, he destroys, and if you’re looking for someone to hype a fight <a href="http://mmamixer.com/videos/mma/ufc-113-paul-daley-pre-fight-interview.html" target="_blank"><strong>he’s your guy</strong></a>. He’s traded verbal barbs with Josh Koscheck, his UFC 113 opponent, one loves playing the heel role and deliberately finds ways to get under one’s skin. In response Daley decided to have some fun and set up a PhotoShop contest to see who can best emulate Koscheck’s hair style, one which Semtex believes is separated at birth from a 1980s Jim Henson character.

 

“They see the similarities between Koscheck and a Fraggle,” Daley told me for a story running in the latest <em>TapouT Magazine</em>. “If they didn’t then the legions of Photoshops wouldn’t be on the forums. As a fan I think this pre-fight talk is entertaining, but it is of no distraction to me.  What he chooses to attempt to do in this fight is up to him. I know what I’m going to do, so I really don’t give two [bleeps] what he says.”

 

Koscheck is a former Division I wrestling champion, but said he’s willing to exchange punches with the Muay Thai practitioner from the United Kingdom. Unless it’s his usual bluster I’m not sure if that’s a good idea.

 

***

 

Kevin “Kimbo Slice” Ferguson and his cult following are in Montreal for a jostle with fellow TUF 10 alum Matt Mitrione. Ferguson’s skills have improved dramatically working at American Top Team and his humility is admirable. Whereas Ferguson can’t do anything wrong, Mitrione is jeered each time he opens his mouth. Kimbo Slice is popular because of who he is. Due to a perception created on a reality show, Mitrione is a prick.

 

Guess what? He doesn’t care. He’s a good guy – a devoted, doting father of two – away from the Octagon who fell into the bad boy role and parlayed that into a tremendous opportunity for exposure and recognition. A sold out Bell Centre will clamor for Ferguson to blast him back south of the border. That makes it easy to forget that Mitrione can fight – he comes off a second-round knockout of Marcus Jones – and he’s very intelligent.

 

“By me being a [d---] on the show – let’s call it what it is – it allowed me to be on the [Ultimate Finale] main card to fight Marcus and allows me to be on a main card of a [pay-per-view] in a foreign country,” Mitrione <a href="http://news.fightmagazine.com/matt-mitrione-ufc-mma-3794/" target="_blank"><strong>told me in February</strong></a>. “That’s phenomenal. People want to see me lose. That’s cool, great. Paying money to see me lose and watch me keep winning, that’s great.

 

“I like Kimbo. He’s a cool, cool dude, but I can’t wait to punch him in the face. I can’t wait to get out there and show the whole (expletive) crowd that, holy (expletive), this guy’s improved by leaps and bounds.”

 

****

 

Seven Canadian fighters are competing Saturday night, most notably Sam Stout and Patrick Cote. Stout locks up with Jeremy Stevens, the winner to make significant headway in the lightweight division, the deepest in the UFC. Cote <a href="http://www.heavy.com/mma/mma-interviews/2010/05/ufc-113-patrick-cote-looking-to-start-the-best-comeback-in-ufc-history/" target="_blank"><strong>returns to the Octagon</strong></a> after ACL and MCL surgery sidelined him for nearly 18 months to face the promising Alan Belcher.

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