Should the rematch between light heavyweight titleholder Lyoto Machida and Mauricio “Shogun” Rua hit the deck at UFC 113 on Saturday at the Bell Centre in Montreal, at least one man believes the champion will have an advantage.
Walter Broca, Machida’s jiu-jitsu coach and a former training partner of Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, has great faith in the unbeaten light heavyweight’s ground skills. Machida holds a black belt under Broca, a decorated Brazilian jiu-jitsu champion who also holds a 6-1 mark in mixed martial arts.
“If Lyoto competed in a world jiu-jitsu competition, he would be among the top guys,” Broca said. “I train with him every day, and I can tell he is better than Shogun on the ground.”
Machida has rarely featured his ground skills and holds only two submission victories -- an arm-triangle choke against Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou and a forearm choke against Michael McDonald -- on his professional MMA resume. Broca believes those who doubt the champion’s credentials on the floor are misinformed.
“It’s amazing to talk about it,” Broca said. “Machida is a complete athlete at everything. Lyoto is a guy who learns really fast, and he likes to be on top or on the bottom. He’s a complete fighter. He has ability in any area. I’m a guy who has a good game on the floor, so I can speak to it. I train with him, and I know how hard it is to deal with him in any area.
“The world does not know his full potential,” he added. “He has not explored everything, and he’s the UFC champion. He’s very good on the ground and very good in wrestling. In striking, nothing needs to be said.”
Rua, a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt who has out-grappled some of the world’s best submission fighters, has Boca’s respect, even though the respected coach favors Machida in every aspect of the fight game.
“Shogun has good ground, but as I said, if Lyoto put on the gi, he would probably be near the top of the world in jiu-jitsu,” he said. “I think Machida has the advantage in stand-up, on the floor and in wrestling. He just has to know the right time to explore that.”
Machida won a hotly contested and controversial decision from Rua the first time the two met at UFC 104 in October. Boca expects to see an improved champion when he locks up with the 2005 Pride Fighting Championships middleweight grand prix winner north of the border.
“It was his first title defense, so that’s always a little bit difficult,” he said. “Now he’s aware of Shogun’s game. This time, it will be easier to exploit his weaknesses.”