Although UFC 104 hasn’t been the most hyped event, it doesn’t mean that we won’t learn a lot about the promotion’s future. Undefeated light heavyweight champion Lyoto “The Dragon” Machida will defend his title tonight against Mauricio “Shogun” Rua in the main event, but that scrap will only answer a few questions.
We’ve compiled a list of the 5 most important things that we’ll learn following tonight’s pay-per-view broadcast:
Lyoto Machida: Yes he’s undefeated. Yes he’s been untouched while putting together a 15-0 record, but it wasn’t until his win over Tito Ortiz that Machida became “dominant.” If Machida can somehow find a way to get past Rua in his first title defense, then he will have proven himself as the cream of the crop in the light heavyweight class.
With a loss, Machida will still be seen as a top 3 light heavyweight, but will certainly lose his aura of invincibility.
Mauricio Rua: Nobody knows which Shogun will “Sho” up, but maybe that’s a good thing for Rua fans. It’s unlikely that Machida would underestimate Rua, but it’s a possibility. It wasn’t long ago when Rua was the Pride Middleweight Grand Prix champion, but who knows how much damage back-to-back knee surgeries has done to the exciting Brazilian.
Posting consecutive W’s over Chuck Liddell and Machida would be the crowning achievement of his career, however, we could also very well see the Shogun that entered the Octagon against Mark Coleman and Forrest Griffin. If that happens, the legacy that Rua built only 3 years ago could be nothing but a memory.
Cain Velasquez: He was supposed to be fighting in a heavyweight top contender match against Shane Carwin tonight but will take on Ben Rothwell instead. With an impressive win over Rothwell, Velasquez would likely place himself atop the list to meet the meet the winner of the main event at UFC 106 when champ Brock Lesnar meets the aforementioned Carwin.
While Velasquez is being touted as the heavyweight to watch, the jury is still out on whether or not he could be “the guy.” There’s no doubt that he has all the tools to become a champion, but his unanimous decision victory over Cheick Kongo at UFC 99 has brought up many questions regarding how bright his future really could be.
Ben Rothwell: Was the IFL good for something? Sure the competition he faced while compiling a 9-0 record in the defunct promotion is questionable at best, winning 9 straight fights is tough regardless of where it goes down. If Rothwell has any championship aspirations, he needs to get over his humiliating loss to Andrei Arlovski at “Affliction: Banned” and have an impressive showing against Velasquez. Rothwell isn’t as big of an underdog as many are making him out to be, but he’s going to have to prove himself tonight.
Yushin Okami: If Okami isn’t the most over-looked fighter in the UFC, I don’t know who is. He was supposed to be Anderson Silva’s challenger until he got injured and now his fight won’t even be aired on the free SpikeTV portion of the pay-per-view broadcast. The strange thing is, Okami hasn’t even lost since UFC 72 where he came up short against former champion Rich Franklin.
This will be Okami’s chance to prove a point to the UFC and MMA fans, who both have a say as to whether or not he’ll get to fight Silva again. Keep in mind, Okami does own a victory over Silva, however it came via a controversial disqualification.
And there you have it, that’s 5thRound.com’s two cents…