Needless to say, this is a big week for UFC light heavyweight champ Lyoto Machida as he prepares for his first- ever title defense. Although the Brazilian boasts a perfect 15-0 record, he understands that legacy talks don’t begin until a champion makes an extended title run.
“The Dragon” will meet Mauricio “Shogun” Rua inside the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California this Saturday. Although Shogun has been slowed by a couple of knee surgeries over the past few years, he did show a glimpse of his prior dominance in his last outing against Chuck Liddell at UFC 97.
Although UFC fans haven’t seen much of his mojo, Silva’s manager, Ed Soares, knows exactly what Shogun is capable of when he’s fully locked and loaded.
“I think that Shogun’s the same fighter he was when he was in Pride. I just think that he hasn’t shown it in last performances,” Soares told 5thRound.com at yesterday’s UFC 104 media day. “I know that he trained hard for this fight because he’s been waiting a long time for a title fight. We’re expecting him to be at his best, and Lyoto will be as well.
“We believe that Shogun has all the tools to beat Lyoto. He’s a good fighter and that is what is going to make this fight fun to watch.”
Machida has silenced his critics by ending his last two scraps in dominating fashion. However, prior to his knockouts of Thiago Silva and former champ Rashad Evans, most considered Machida nothing more than a solid light heavyweight due to his inability to finish.
However, since those thrashings, he’s developed an aura of invincibility that has sent the division sideways. Some even have him in the conversation as MMA’s G.O.A.T. (Greatest Of All Time), however that clearly remains to be seen.
Regardless of what is thought of him, he acknowledged that the potential for MMA greatness officially kicks off after his first successful title defense. So for now, Shogun is all that’s on his mind.
“I can’t think about anything like that,” Machida told us about his sudden Anderson Silva-like stature. “I can’t help what other people think about me, but I can control what I do when I fight.
“I am 1000% ready.”