UFC light heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida is set to defend his newly obtained championship for the first time when he faces off with a fellow Brazilian, and former training partner in Mauricio “Shogun” Rua at UFC 104.
Rua’s strengths in such a wide aspect of areas in the cage make him a legitimate threat to a champion many believe has no peers at 205 pounds.
Shogun is a strong wrestler. While not as technical as some of Machida’s previous opponents such as Tito Ortiz and Rashad Evans on paper, Mauricio combines his punishing stand-up attack with explosive takedowns to keep his opponents guessing.
Throw in the challenger’s vast and indisputably dangerous submission arsenal, and you have a fighter with the skill-set that the elusive “Dragon” has yet to encounter up to this point in his fifteen fight career.
While both men are widely considered to be among the best fighters competing in the sport, the two couldn’t be any more opposite stylistically. Defensive fighter vs. offensive fighter. Something Rua confessed to being fully aware of in a recent interview with our friends at Tatame.com.
“He comes from the Karate school and I come from the Muay Thai school, but he’s an athlete who gives a lot of knee blows, plenty Muay Thai blows also, which he improved well,” explained Shogun. “I think the big difference is that he likes to fight in counter punching, and I’m the opposite, I like to go inside”
Tito Ortiz had Machida in more trouble than ever before in his mixed martial arts career and “The Huntington Beach Bad Boy” has never been known for his submissions. It’s that exact viewpoint that has left many fans speculating about the possibility of Shogun being able to submit Lyoto should the fight go to the canvas. However, according to Rua the two are far from strangers and even he doesn’t expect things to be as easy as many may believe come fight night.
“He’s a very complete man; good standing, good on the ground, and good in wrestling,” said Mauricio. “Actually, people say that if I take the fight to the ground I’ll win, but it isn’t like that. He’s very good on the ground. I’ve trained with him, and sometimes that isn’t the solution. Staying on top in the fight may be an advantage, but I have to see it right so that I don’t make the wrong strategy”