“UFC 113: Machida vs Rua II” may not have been given a catchy nickname but it might as well be entitled ‘back on track’. After a couple of unimpressive cards which have resulted in lackluster fights the upcoming UFC has all the ingredients of a classic.
The main event is a relative rarity in recent UFC title fights in that there is little to choose between the two fighters. The first meeting between Mauricio “Shogun” Rua and Lyoto “The Dragon” Machida was close with the majority of spectators disagreeing with the judges who awarded Machida a controversial decision.
Regardless of the win the unbeaten Machida has lost little of his air of invincibility and will be looking to show that the first fight was merely an aberration by comprehensively outclassing his opponent in the rematch. “Shogun” did not make an impressive UFC debut being badly beaten by Forrest Griffin. Despite defeating fellow Pride veteran Mark Coleman he also failed to impress in his second Octagon appearance.
It was third time lucky for the the former Pride Middleweight Grand Prix champion as an emphatic first round knockout win over Chuck Liddell propelled him straight into a title show. He was a heavy underdog but Rua rolled back the years to give Machida the fight of his life. Even if Rua had been awarded the decision, as most impartial observers felt he should, this rematch would have been inevitable so to some extent the judge’s decision has been rendered irrelevant. The real winner will be decided in Montreal tomorrow night.
There is plenty of intrigue outside the main event as well. Paul Daley has won his last four fights by first round KO, two of them inside the octagon, but will be facing arguably the toughest test of his career against UFC veteran and outstanding wrestler Josh Koscheck. The TUF 1 alumni will be looking to prove that Daley’s superlative stand up can only take him so far in the UFC by putting the Englishman on his back and keeping him there.
Daley will be hoping to let his hands go but may also relish the opportunity to demonstrate that there is more to his game than merely knocking people out. A convincing win over Koscheck would firmly establish Daley as one of the top welterweights in the world and might even propel him towards a fight with reigning champion George St-Pierre, a mixed blessing if ever there was one.
Koscheck, who has already had his shot at St-Pierre, has been fighting for the UFC since 2005. He lost to GSP via unanimous decision but he has won three quarters of his 16 UFC fights and will provide a stern test of Daley’s title credentials.
The rest of the main card and undercard consists mainly of matches featuring Canadian fighters with Sam Stout vs. Jeremy Stephens and Patrick Cote vs. Alan Belcher being the main ones. Outside of Canada though all eyes will be on the bout between former street fighter and internet legend Kimbo Slice and former NFL star Matt Mitrione.
Both men featured on TUF 10 together where Kimbo surprised a lot of people with his easy going attitude and willingness to learn. He is a hugely marketable asset who did his reputation no harm by defeating Houston Alexander in his UFC debut. Kimbo will be looking to prove that he has evolved from a back yard brawler to a modern day mixed martial artist by defeating Mitrione in Montreal.
There is no guaranteed formula for exciting MMA fights, if there was Zuffa would probably have patented it. Unlike recent UFC events you cannot criticize either the matchmaking or the card at UFC 113. Hopefully the fighters can put on a show which will make the disappointment of UFC 112 seem little more than a distant memory.