The Ultimate Fighting Championship like all combat sports is not without its controversial moments. In fact these days it seems no sport is. The title match and co-main event pitted Mauricio “Shogun” Rua against the undefeated Lyoto Machida. After several inujuries it appeared as though “Shogun” Rua’s best days were over with. He put his body through much rigor in Pride F.C. and injuries caused him to accumulate much ring rust but he has brushed that off and his polishing stones were Mark Coleman and Chuck Liddell, whom he knocked into retirement.
At UFC 104 Rua was back to his old self giving fans a five round war that many feel the “Shogun” dominated. In all five rounds it appeared Rua was the aggressor, which is not an unusual situation for the light-heavy. Like wise Machida was elusive as he always is. And while Rua and Machida appeared an even match for eachother Machida quickly ran out of energy having never gone past 3 rounds in the UFC. The last two rounds were a one-sided beating with Rua showing why he was the 2005 Sherdog fighter of the year and #1 MMA Weekly 2007 Light Heavyweight Fighter in the World.
But this was not his night and in a shocking unanimous decision the match was awarded to Lyoto Machida. The fan reaction was one of upset as many had began to cheer for a man believed to be an underdog. Rua was classy as ever as he raised his hands triumphantly to the crowd and walked out with his waist as light as it was when he walked in. Clad not with a belt but with the pride in having fought the best fight.
Over all the fights were excellent. Cain Velasquez ran over Ben Rothwell. Having built much context in his fight against Cheik Congo Velasquez did an impressive job on strikes, kicking and bloodying the face of Rothwell. The match almost got called in the first round. In the second round Rothwell was handled and tossed around for perhaps the first time in his career. After an impressive 6 undefended shots to the face Steve Mazagatti stopped the fight. Rothwell though standing was making not even a little attempt to protect himself.
Chael Sonnen appears bound for a shot at the middle weight title as he fought off Yushin Okami. The decision was unanimous and no surprise to anyone as Chael Sonnen got out of every hold, an impressive feat especially given Okami’s reputation as a world class grappler. Certainly Sonnen has avenged his previous loss to Damian Maia. But he will have to go through Nate the Great Marquardt before he can challenge for the title and possibly even the loser of the Silva-Belfort fight before that happens.
In a battle of veterans Spencer Fischer tried to bite off a piece of Joe Stephenson and choked on the bone. Stephenson is a gatekeeper for those seeking a shot at the lightweight title. The King Fischer will have to wait. With both arms pinned, vicious elbows forced the match to an abrupt end in the second round. With these last two victories for Joe Daddy we have to wonder what is Greg Jackson putting these guys through in New Mexico.
Other notable fights were Tibau and Neer, Tibau having won by impressive takedowns amounting to ten takedowns in just three rounds. The same number GSP got on Thiago Alves in five rounds. Johnson and Yoshida faced each other with Johnson scoring an impressive victory though it is worth noting that Johnson was overweight for the match.