With Saturday’s night’s light heavyweight title fight between champion Lyoto “The Dragon” Machida and Mauricio “Shogun” Rua inching closer and closer, oddsmakers currently have Rua as a 4.5-to-1 underdog going into his UFC 104 bout against the champion.
It was only a few years ago when Rua was the world’s consensus #1 ranked light heavyweight after running through Pride’s best 205-pound fighters. His crowning achievement was when he captured the Pride Middleweight Grand Prix in February 2007.
The Brazilian has defeated Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, Alistair Overeem and Chuck Liddell, but is a missive underdog heading into the Staples Center in Los Angeles, CA.
One of the reasons many MMA “experts” doubt Rua’s chances against Machida is the less-than-stellar conditioning that he’s shown since coming to the UFC. Rua looked like the older fighter when he faced 47-year-old Mark Coleman at UFC 93, and of course the thrashing Forrest Griffin laid on him in his Octagon debut at UFC 76.
“Every fighter has weak points, as every fighter has strong points,” Rua recently told Heavy.com.
The problem is, nobody has been able to figure out Machida’s weakness through 15 fights. Rua undoubtedly has the skill set to hand Machida his first L, but nobody knows if he has enough fuel in the tank to fight long enough to make something happen.
“My team and I developed the strategy we feel is right, and we plan on executing it on the fight,” Rua continued.
Machida has been nearly perfect in capturing the UFC title. The only time has he was in a little bit of trouble was in the closing seconds of his UFC 84 fight against Tito Ortiz. Ortiz caught Machida in a triangle choke, but the perspiration on Ortiz’ legs and Machida’s body helped him escape as the final horn sounded.
It’s highly unlikely that a fighter with Machida’s intelligence would ever put himself in that sort of danger again, so it will be up to Shogun to find a way to tame “The Dragon.”