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The Unsupportable Opinion: “Shogun” Rua Is The Toughest Opponent Lyoto Machida Has Ever Faced

(Some of Genghis Con‘s, and “Shogun” Rua’s, best work to date.)Over at MMA Fanhouse this week, Mike Chiappetta and I discussed everything from Dream’s crazy cage to UFC 104’s biggest fights, and Mike brought up an interesting point that most of us might have missed: “Shogun” Rua is actually a slightly bigger underdog against Lyoto Machida (according to some oddsmakers) than Brett Rogers is against Fedor Emelianenko.  Let that sink in for a moment.  Pride GP winner and seven-year veteran of the sport Mauricio Rua (18-3), supposedly has less of a chance of beating Machida (15-0) than relative MMA newbie Brett Rogers (10-0) has against the best heavyweight on the planet, Fedor Emelianenko (30-1-1, counting his non-MMA fights).

In our discussion, I attributed this betting odds anomaly to a combination of Rogers’ one-punch knockout ability and Machida’s ninja-like defensive skills, but then I got to thinking: has Machida faced anyone, in his own weight class, with Rua’s career credentials?


Here’s a quick Shogun refresher for you.  In the last five years he’s picked up victories against: “Rampage” Jackson, Akihiro Gono, Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, Alistair Overeem (twice), Ricardo Arona, Kevin Randleman, Cyrille Diabate, Mark Coleman, and Chuck Liddell, just to name a few.  In that same time he’s lost fights against Mark Coleman (via freak injury) and Forrest Griffin.  Rua apologists will insist that the Griffin loss and the poor, though victorious showing in the second Coleman fight are both attributable to his recent knee injuries and a gradual recovery from surgery.

But whether you want to believe that or not, it’s hard to find any light heavyweights on Machida’s resume who have records like Rua’s.  His recent wins over Rashad Evans and Thiago Silva were dominant and impressive, but they were both against up-and-comers who hadn’t been in the kind of wars that Rua endured during his Pride days.  Before that he beat a declining Tito Ortiz, a thoroughly-hapless-unless-he’s-fighting-Super-Hulks Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou, and a very mediocre Kazuhiro Nakamura.

Wins over David Heath, Sam Hoger, and Vernon White are nice, but expected, and victories against B.J. Penn and Rich Franklin only prove that he can beat guys who either have no business fighting at the weight (Penn) or have since proved that they are better off in another division (Franklin). 

In other words, Machida has yet to face the kind of straight-up buzz saw of a fighter that Rua was in Pride.  Since then Shogun seems to have toned down the all-out aggression a bit, but that will probably only help him against a guy like Machida, who is custom made to evade and destroy overly aggressive fighters.  At least on paper, this may be his toughest test yet.

That said, just because he’s in for a challenge that doesn’t necessarily mean he isn’t up for it.   The guy hasn’t lost a round in his UFC career, let alone a fight.  Regardless of who he’s up against, he deserves to be the favorite.  But maybe, just maybe, Rua is the guy to push him further than anyone else has.  And wouldn’t that be something to see.


Cagepotato Comments

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Endocat- October 23, 2009 at 7:41 pm
have you even seen that fedor vs arlovski fight on anything other then a grainy youtube video?

I watched it in high def, then later in slow mo, arlovski never landed any decent shots, fedor either deflected with his shoulder or straight up knocked down his strikes.

Why do you think he was windmilling?
LoneWolf- October 23, 2009 at 11:07 am
I agree...this will def be Machida's toughest test. I honestly wouldn't be that surprised if he actually won. But I'm looking forward to a great fight no matter who wins!
saltyalmonds- October 23, 2009 at 10:53 am
Granted, this is the Unsupportable opinion, but how are, Light Heavy Weight Champion at the time Rashard Evans, and Undefeated at the time Thiago Silva considered "up-and-comers"??... How does that even compute?

And why does ANYBODY count what ANY fighter did in Pride, where steroids ran amuck? Shogun was explosive and dominant becasue he was full of horse juice, like most everybody else over there. In the UFC, he lost, and looked unbelievably tired, to Forest. He barely beat a 43 year old Mark Coleman, and knockout out Chuck who had just been knocked out in 2 of his previous 3 fights. All the while lacking the explosiveness he had, with gorilla piss in his veins, in Pride.

He should be more of an under dog than Rogers, because Rogers actually CAN knock Fedor out. People forget that Fedor was losing to Arlovski before Arlovski decided he was in a pogo stick competition. Unless there is some miracle juice that is undetectable by CSAC, that rua can pump himself full of, he will be taking a nap saturday night.

Rua has no chance.
Dropkick_Murphy- October 22, 2009 at 4:58 pm
A local radio station DJ where I live just said "Lee-toe Ma-cheen-da" is going to be fighting "Shotgun Roo-uh" ....... Yep, I lol'ed
Nicidimus- October 22, 2009 at 3:53 pm
All throughout the article, all the references to Shogun were how good he WAS in Pride. That is the most important thing to think about. Shogun WAS a dominant fighter in Pride, but has never shown even close to that level since he has been in the UFC, even against Chuck, who most say was his best shape ever. I don't believe that Shogun has what it takes to penetrate the elusive style that Machida is known for. By no means do I think this will be an easy fight for Machida, but I would be thoroughly shocked if Shogun wins on Saturday night.
831 Son- October 22, 2009 at 3:42 pm
I highly doubt it will go all 5 rounds. Shogun is a good fighter, but he is going to get straight schooled on Saturday.
Kevin Marshall- October 22, 2009 at 3:36 pm
As much as I'd like to just write off the performances against Griffin and Coleman and chalk it up to his "recovery," everything I've seen leads me to believe that the injury and subsequent surgery have both done irreparable harm to him as a fighter. I have my doubts that he's ever going to be the fighter that he was in Pride.

Look, I like Rua and will be rooting for him on Saturday. But let's be realistic - knee surgery isn't something that you just go in, get done, take time off and get back to where you were before. It's not like getting your tonsils out. There's always going to be something off, even if it's just a half-step. Ask any athlete who's had a similar surgery and they'll tell you much the same. The key in these types of situation is changing up your game to adapt and account for these differences, and if anything, the Griffin and Coleman fights proved that he hasn't been able to do that yet.
J Akuma- October 22, 2009 at 2:02 pm
I really do like this "Unsupportable Opinion" feature Cagepotato have had every now and again.

I also like how Swedish thinks that he's this one-in-twenty, elite MMA fan because he isn't "blinded by Fedor love". You are so unique and everyone that doesn't agree with you MUST be a retard.

I agree that Fedor is overrated (despite being a fan of his, myself) but there are a whole lot of others that would agree.
Swedish- October 22, 2009 at 1:23 pm
This only proves that Fedor is very overrated and the odds makers are not blinded by Fedor love... unlike 95% of the idiots on this site
Karate Fists and Beans- October 22, 2009 at 1:18 pm
The -550 for Machida has to be the biggest favorite for a genuine piss-drinker since Marquis de Sade got -645 vs. Buxom French Maid.
D Piddy- October 22, 2009 at 1:12 pm
I'm feeling a boring fight that goes to a decision. Shogun shouldn't be such an underdog though because he's already proven he has an iron chin, Machida hasn't. If Shogun wins it will be by decision, because of octagon aggression/control. Still I think Machida will win.
jimbonics- October 22, 2009 at 12:44 pm
I think Machida's win over Bonnar deserves mention.
One Two- October 22, 2009 at 12:31 pm
whats with all these KO predictions?!? Machida has like three KOs in his entire career (Rua 15). I'll admit machida has a chance at taking a decision here but come on you knock out one TUF bum and all the sudden your billy bad ass?
Aokiplata- October 22, 2009 at 12:31 pm
Honestly, lets consider some facts. Before Shogun's fight against Griffin he had knee surgery and also had just gotten married, those two things combined means he probably wasn't training much for the fight. Hence why he was gassed and looked terrible. I'm not making excuses for him, he just wasn't prepared. I'm going to claim a similar situation for his Coleman fight. Yeah, he got the KO but he was just as gassed as Coleman who is much older and should have worse cardio. Let's flash back to the Shogun of old, he seemed to have unlimited cardio, Bas made some comments toward this while commentating. So if Shogun shows up with his cardio intact, this could be a great fight, if not well then maybe his cardio in Pride was based on the fact that they don't make you pee in a cup over there. Next, the fact that there are no stomps or soccer kicks in the UFC. Yes, he beat a lot of his opponents this way: Gono, Rampage, etc. But Rampage was already beaten before that because of knees to the body, breaking his ribs, which of course are legal in UFC. Ontop of that he's beaten a lot of his toughest competition with punches: Liddell with a huge left, Allistar Overeem twice (the second fight he landed a Hendo-esque right while standing and Overeem was laying on his back), Coleman, Ricardo Arona, Cyborg, and he even jacked up lil' Nog with a straight right in their fight, though it didn't knock him out because those two have fucking neanderthal heads. All I'm saying is that any fighter has a punchers chance and we know that Shogun has one punch knock out power in both hands. Now the obvious argument is that Shogun's hands will never even come close to Machida. That might be true but if he can work the clinch, control his head and tire him out, Machida's ninja reflexes could be broken down. I mean, you're only as good as your last fight so Shogun is obviously a pretty big underdog coming into this, but if his cardio is back to normal and his gameplan doesn't look anything like Forrest's when he fought Silva then I think Shogun might have a lot better chances than most people are giving him.
cagefightmon- October 22, 2009 at 12:28 pm
the next fight is always going to be the toughest . . . don't believe the hype. Machida will prevail.
portland mma- October 22, 2009 at 12:18 pm
I agree with Last Emperor not being able to kick dudes in the face takes a little away from Shoguns arsenal. Also I'm still not convinced Shogun's is still the same guy from Pride, we're being a little premature here I think, either way Lyoto is gonna destroy him.
NateGetsIrate- October 22, 2009 at 12:17 pm
@ the rail:

You know what? You're right that i misunderstood that you were making fun of Mikerip with your initial comment. Sorry about that you lazy, dickface.
Cheeky Bastard- October 22, 2009 at 12:11 pm
Awwww shiieeet. This is gonna be gooooooooooooood.
831 Son- October 22, 2009 at 12:01 pm
therail you are a moron. You are obviously one of those casual incompetent fans that are only watching for KO's. You are also jealous of Joe Rogan apparently.
Brock Lesnesman- October 22, 2009 at 11:57 am
how is The Grimm an underdog?!?
peanutbuttter- October 22, 2009 at 11:44 am
This is why Anderson Silva would destroy Lyoto Machida and there's no reason for them to ever fight.
therail- October 22, 2009 at 11:44 am
NateGetsIrate. Again, please read things before making comments just make you look stupid and childish. I was making a joke about MikeRip not knowing how to spell. Thats it. I understand that the article, well written and thought out, was about Rua and Machida. I don't care much for the fight, its gonna be 5 rounds of Machida ducking and dodging and backing up while Joe Rogan blows him. I thought my joke was funny but hey thats what i get for signing up and making a comment, some CagePotato Groupie getting on my case for having fun. Now go back to the drawing board and get a better insult cause dumbass really doesn't have the punch. To everyone else, sorry, this is supposed to be a threat about a fight coming up and this should really go to the forum. Some pencil necked geek got in the way.
NateGetsIrate- October 22, 2009 at 11:35 am
@ therail:

BF wasn't talking about Rashad beating Tito. He was talking about Lyoto beating Tito. No where in this article is there any focus on who Rashad has fought. Mikerip completely misread what Ben was talking about. And you? Looks like you weren't able to get past 4th grade reading comp, as well, cuz you're so off topic that you should just learn to shut up you sensitive, dyslexic dumbass.
Dubbayoo- October 22, 2009 at 11:33 am
I hear ya about Sodokuju! They really need to keep a taser cageside for him. How come that's like the first time I've ever seen it mentioned anywhere?
just some dong- October 22, 2009 at 11:25 am
Nice article. I agree that Rua could very well be Machida's most difficult opponent to date. He was a killer in Pride and he's looked progressively better in his fights since his knee surgery. I thought he looked amazing against Liddell, and not simply because Liddell has slowed a step. His footwork and timing just looked really crisp and fluid.

That said, Machida takes this, hands down. Rua is talented, but I disagree that he's tough to train for. He's got solid Jitz, but definitely favors the striking game, and Machida dominates strikers. There's nothing Rua will show him that he hasn't seen before and been training to counter all fight camp.

I'm calling a KO/TKO, probably toward the end of the 2nd. Lyoto just has an answer for everything, and he's learning to smell the blood, and act on it. It's gonna be a great fight and I can't wait to see both of these guys in action again.