No amount of complaining, debate or controversy will change the fact that Lyoto Machida entered Staples Center as the light heavyweight champion and exited the same way during Saturday’s UFC 104 event. He’s 16-0, and only a positive drug test -- unlikely at best -- will change that. It is what it is.
But the fight result tells an incomplete story: the “unanimous” decision for Machida doesn’t apply if you count fan reaction, with many in the media and on the couch believing Mauricio “Shogun” Rua had edged him out. (I had the fight 49-47 for Rua, with a rare-but-allowable 10-10 first round and Rua taking all but the third.) Rua found a home for his kicks to the torso with increasing accuracy; Machida parried and landed with less frequency. Watch the entire fight over without trying to measure strikes and see how often Rua comes forward while Machida steps back. Aggression counts.
There was no “robbery” and Lee Murray was not seen fleeing the arena. Rua may have appeared to look better than he did because we’ve grown accustomed to Machida operating in complete control. Rua has a right to be upset, though: he should’ve woken up next to something beautiful and shiny Sunday morning.
Next for Machida: Rounds 6-10 with Rua.
Next for Rua: Rounds 6-10 with Machida.
Next for Cain Velasquez: A shot against the Brock Lesnar/Shane Carwin winner on 11/21. (If Carwin deserves his bid, so does Velasquez.)
Next for Ben Rothwell: A sponsor other than Extenze, and possibly Antoni Hardonk or Roy Nelson.
Next for Anthony Johnson: Stomach stapling. Paul Daley.
During the post-fight press conference, Mauricio Rua said his team had assured him he was winning the fight and he didn’t feel the need to press the action. When you want objective scoring, maybe stay away from your own corner…No major media outlet on my radar scored the fight for Machida; athletes Twittering didn’t express any support for the champion, either: Frank Trigg and Jorge Gurgel used the word “robbed.” Strikeforce lightweight Josh Thomson voiced minority attitude: “Machida won. You have to beat the champ to be the champ.”…Patrick Barry knocked out $120,000 in bonus dough, taking $60,000 each for KO of the Night and Fight of the Night against Antoni Hardonk.