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.