UFC 104 Main Event Preview - Lyoto Machida vs. Mauricio Rua

Machida vs Rua: Shogun Fights Against Perfection

BetUS MMA Betting Odds

UFC Light Heavyweight title (5 rounds)
October 24 - Los Angeles
LYOTO MACHIDA -450
MAURICIO RUA  +325

For betting purposes, let's look at the contestants:

MACHIDA (15-0, 5 KO's), the -450 favorite in the BetUS UFC betting odds, is a second-generation Japanese-Brazilian, who grew up mastering Shotokan karate and eventually working with karate, sumo, jiu-jitsu and Thai boxing as well. He has been a pro wrestler in Japan, a protégé of Antonio Inoki (who is most famous for fighting Muhammad Ali in a boxer vs. wrestler match). Machida fought a much smaller B.J. Penn in a K-1 bout, and holds a knockout victory over former UFC middleweight champ Rich Franklin who he blasted out in two rounds. In his first six MMA bouts he had wins over Franklin, Penn, Michael McDonald and Stephan Bonnar, which is pretty impressive.

Machida first fought in the UFC in February 2007 as he scored a decision over Sam Hoger. In his 13th pro fight he beat Tito Ortiz and signaled himself as a force to be reckoned with in the UFC.  He followed that with a devastating first-round knockout of Thiago Silva, which led directly to his title shot against Rashad Evans, where be knocked Evans down in the first round, then took him out in the second, leaving Evans unconscious.

RUA (18-3, 15 KO's), the +325 underdog at BetUS, is known as "Shogun" in the world of mixed martial arts. A Brazilian, he studied jiu-jitsu and Muay Thai at an early age, and he eventually gravitated into Vale Tudo before joining the IFC "global domination" tournament, where he was choked out by Babalu Sobral. He then went to PRIDE, where he scored wins over Rampage Jackson, Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, Allstair Overeem and Ricardo Arona to win the 2005 Middleweight Grand Prix. He did lose to Mark Coleman when he dislocated his elbow during a match.  When he was fighting in PRIDE he was considered by many to be the best light heavyweight in the world.

After the UFC buyout, Rua competed there and lost to Forest Griffin in a fight where he basically ran out of gas. Then he got fights with a couple of living legends. He beat Mark Coleman by TKO at UFC 85, then at UFC 97 he knocked out Chuck Liddell in the very first round to announce himself as a top contender once again.

The UFC has kind of a dilemma with Lyoto Machida. He may be the best fighter they have, or at the very least a prospective battle for that "pound-for-pound" designation with Anderson Silva would be a big seller, but he is, to many, a boring fighter, and even worse, one who couldn't care less whether he is "entertaining" or not, as long as he wins.

However, he can be explosive, as he demonstrated against Evans. Machida is not considered to be a knockout puncher, but he can do some damage with striking, and otherwise has a varied repertoire that includes leg sweeps, spinning back kicks and even forearm chokes. He is one of the most versatile fighters in the Octagon. The fact he is a careful type who is patient enough to wait for an opponent's mistake may not hit home with some fans, but is pleasing to some purists.

Some people were down on Rua after the fight with Griffin, as he seemed not to have the stamina to go hard with a fresher opponent. The wins over Coleman and Liddell have hardly been a "buy" signal for him; against Coleman he was not impressive, and Liddell is through as a UFC contender. 

Machida is amassing a record much like Roy Jones Jr. did in boxing in his prime, in that he reportedly has not lost a round in any of his professional fights. That kind of focus and precision is a very difficult thing for a fighter to contend with. So is the kind of style where one does not attack and leave himself open from the outset of a fight. Rua will encounter the same problems everybody else has with Machida, and despite the fact that he has a vast array of experience,

Rua is great at the ground game, but Machida excels in everything, and he has that other quality of patience that allows him to come forward with aggression when it is to his advantage. I think it will be difficult for anyone to beat him. The choice here has to be Lyoto Machida, the -450 favorite in the BetUS UFC mixed martial arts betting odds.

JAY'S PLAY:  MACHIDA TO WIN (-450) ***

(Graded on a scale of 1-4 stars)