On Saturday, October 24 Mauricio “Shogun” Rua will step into the Octagon to challenge Lyoto Machida for the UFC light heavyweight belt, but does the weathered veteran stand a chance against the most elusive champion ever?
No one out there is giving Shogun much of a chance in this fight and neither am I, really, but that’s not to say an upset is impossible. At 18-3, Rua brings a ton of experience to the table and he’s been in there with the best this sport has to offer for a long time. As Michael David Smith points out for FanHouse.com, Rua is a legitimate contender and a legitimate threat to Machida’s crown. Like many of the Pride greats, Rua’s transition to the UFC was less than exemplary but it would be unfair not to note that Rua was in the midst of knee problems that required two separate surgeries during his fall from grace. After a long recovery he got back in the Octagon to face Chuck Liddell and stepped up in a big way to beat the Iceman. Rua was starting to look like the fighter everyone remembered from Pride and the victory was enough to earn him a shot at the title.
Rua is probably the toughest fighter Machida has fought (though that may not be saying much). Even Rashad Evans, who he beat to win the championship, doesn’t have nearly the battle scars that Rua does.
Now don’t let me be misunderstood. Machida is a great champion, he beat tough fighters and deserves the belt more than anyone right now. in fact, we might eventually be talking about him as the best champion there ever was. It just that when you put this on paper, Rua has had a tougher road and all I’m saying is that Rua will represent the biggest test that Machida has seen. I think the champ will be validating his title with his first successful defense this Saturday night.
Machida’s elusiveness is going to be too much to handle. When Rua’s offense can’t find a place to land, he’ll get frustrated and start to make mistakes –lots of them. He might have a good chance at pulling off a submission but scoring a takedown might prove harder than landing a clean blow. Just ask Tito Ortiz.
This is going to be an exciting fight, and victory won’t come easy for Machida but if he can find a way to win, it’ll be the kind that goes a long way in defining a great career.
Head to FanHosue to checkout Smith’s picks for the rest of the card.
The UFC 104 Prelims Live will air free on Spike before the pay-per-view kicks off. Tune in at 9pm ET/6PT to watch Ryan Bader take on Eric Schafer, then Pat Barry vs. Antoni Hardonk.
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