Like most great fights, Machida-Rua will be ongoing story
If you were willing to commit yourself to it, Saturday evening turned Sunday morning and live mixed martial arts engulfed your time like an inappropriate
Barely an hour after UFC 104 delivered one of the most interesting title fights in years, Dream, with Schiavello calling the action for HDNet, debuted a "cage" made of high-tensile mesh originally designed to reel in the catch of the day. Dream 12 is worth discussing, and we will, but first, some thoughts on mixed martial arts' return to Los Angeles.
I wasn't at the Staples Center for
In part, that was due to broadcasters
Also, expectations surely played a role in the meme that Rua was "robbed." Machida, 31, came into the fight billed as unhittable, unhurtable. He never lost a round in his life, UFC president
And, finally, Rua did his damage late.
Upon a second viewing, this time with muted audio, the 48-47 scores in favor of Machida (16-0) tallied by
Peoples and Rosales handed in identical scoresheets: Rounds 1, 2 and 3 for the champ, Rounds 4 and 5 to the challenger. Hamilton reached the same total by bookending Machida in 2 through 4 with Rua's first and fifth. Live, I saw it 48-47 for Rua, giving him Rounds 1, 4 and 5. Surprisingly, the replay made it tougher to score. I had a difficult time finding separation in the opening frame, and though I loathe using it, a 10-10 round seems appropriate. Twenty minutes later and I have no problem with 48-48.
White made the right call by doing something he rarely does: grant an immediate rematch. Not only does it allow the division time to simmer while
Rua, 27, was about as good it gets when it came to his execution. He implemented his planned attack to the body, and though it must have been tempting, "Shogun" never went head-hunting -- a decision that kept him under control and at a distance difficult for Machida to counter. Rua also landed enough punches to bloody the titleholder's nose and make oddsmakers book a much closer price in the rematch.
Will the same strategy work for Rua (18-4) in the rematch? Is there another way to find success against Machida, who did a very nice job of staying off his back, moving and counter attacking? The rematch will determine that. For now, I'm content to re-watch and analyze one of the most intriguing fights in a long time. When it grew apparent the fight would head past the 15th minute, a tension arose that MMA rarely delivers. Major championship boxing bouts, the 36-minute kind, that go into the later rounds often play out like a story, with a beginning, middle and end. That's how I felt watching Machida-Shogun.
The fight itself sprouted a new life -- Machida-Shogun II -- one that will grow into next year.
A few wild happenings from