Sunday, October 25, 2009

Shogun Rua - Return To Form

104 in Review / 10.25.09

Guerrilla had been on a hot streak, decisively picking correctly most of the recent main events in the UFC. Despite technically picking well with our call on Machida, the fight didn't go according to plan. "The Dragon" likely felt the same way. Like all fighters, dominance is fleeting.

Coming into the main event at UFC 104 there was one dominant question on the minds of fight fans and the press: which Shogun was the fluke - the loser vs. Coleman, or the winner vs. Liddel ? The line spoke for itself, and many fans who once worshiped at the feet of Rua as the P4P best in the world were clearly not willing to reverse their decision to distance themselves from a former master in steep decline. Still, in hindsight perhaps writing off a fighter of that regard as "shot" was a little premature ? Just a little. Considering Rua is still a month away from being 29 years old, maybe the disrespect went too far. It's fair to say that many fans who have not checked his bio in a while will be surprised to read that number. Shogun Rua is well under 30. But the years of war spent in Pride have left an indelible mark in the minds of the faithless. Too many fans were all too ready to accept that the downturn of Rua was for real, and not just a setback for a man tending serious injuries on his way back to the top. Count Guerrilla in that category. The Coleman fight in particular (despite the win for Rua) left a lasting impression that Rua could not handle the "next-gen elite" Lyoto Machida.

To be honest, I have to say that my personal gut feeling changed substantially when I saw Shogun in the cage prior to the fight. He just looked 100% to me, while Machida appeared, well ... concerned. Unlike any of his previous 15 wins, at no point in the match did Machida look completely confident of victory. Certainly not after the first round, which it is said, was perhaps the first round Machida had lost in his MMA career (and that is astounding). I think it's safe to say that Machida recognized within the first round, if not within the cage prior to the handshake, that Shogun might again be a beast.

The decision was poor and that is obvious so we just won't dwell on it. But for those quick to pounce on Dana White and Zuffa and cry conspiracy, let's just have a quick reality check. As heavy handed as White and "the brothers" are reputed to be (and it is their right to be so), the possibility of a corrupt decision influenced by the UFC itself is total garbage. Let's just squash that nonsense now.

As convenient as it was for the UFC to have an undefeated, perhaps invincible fighter in each of the 170 lb, 185 lb and 205 lb divisions, the stupidity it would take to risk the franchise (which by the way makes roughly a zillion dollars a year) by trying to fix decisions is laughable. Zuffa is many things but stupid is not on the list. What's more, White clearly thought Shogun won the fight, and if you're even a tiny bit skilled at reading lips, White clearly said as much to Rua in the cage immediately after the fight. And while the decision was poor, it was at least not an outrageously bad decision, the likes of which boxing has been plagued with for 100 years. Rua should have been 48/47 or there abouts on each of the judges cards, which is roughly how the estimable Sherdog had it. Despite the fact that Shogun clearly won (solidified by taking the 5th round) it was a close fight, made even closer by the fact that Machida was a sitting Champ. We are not in the camp that claims this was the worst decision in the history of fighting (which our clearly excited and up in arms friend Jamie Varner stated on his FaceBook page). However, there most definitely should have been a new Champ at 205 lbs this morning. The lesson here is clear - once you are considered the most dangerous man on the planet, you are forever a threat to anyone. J.Wise- 10.25.09

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


"Guerrilla's Pick" / - 10.21.09

The main event of the evening pits the UFC Light Heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida against the '05 Pride Grand Prix champion Mauricio Rua. This fight may have indeed been a compelling match-up in Japan a few years back, but appears to be a potential mismatch at this point inside the cage.

Machida is a master, as he is tough to hit - changing angles, levels, and pace - while keeping his head back in that noted Karate stance. The champion is comfortable in the Octagon and his cardio never seems taxed due to his relaxed, controlled pace and aggression. Opponents have such a tough time figuring out how to engage Machida, that openings occur and the Dragon takes advantage of any position slips to assert his skills and take control of and or end the contest.

Shogun was once a menacing young terror from the feared Chute Boxe team led by the "Axe Murderer".. That '05 GP was an awesome display of Muay Thai skills as he decimated and overwhelmed quality fighters with reckless abandon. Unfortunately, injuries and the dissolving of his team have left this once top ranked "205'lb er" a shadow of the bruiser who donned the GP belt. He must regain some prior form and aggressiveness to bring the challenge to Lyoto.

The line in this fight opened with Machida an overwhelming 4-1 favorite and has remained fairly stable as the fight draws near. I was originally surprised to see Shogun get no respect and remember uttering aloud that the line was way too high as I conjured up flashbacks of poor Rampage slumped in the corner after that brutal beat down. Upon examining my "ways to win" chart I do understand now why that line has remained steadfast. It is a tall task for Shogun as he has struggled to regain form. He is dangerous when aggressive in the early part of the bout and may need a round one KO to take the victory. I simply don't see that scenario unfolding and must take Machida to dismantle Mauricio after a few rounds to retain the title........Machida, TKO in 3 against a tiring but game Shogun.

James Seijas / 10.21.09