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Machida/Shogun II: Later rather than sooner

Joe Rogan screamed “The Machida Era has begun!” after Lyoto Machida crushed Rashad Evans at UFC 98. After Lyoto’s victory over Shogun Rua at 104, he should have yelled “The Machida Era has ended!”

It wasn’t the crash-and-burn kind of momentum halt that ended the reigns of Takanori Gomi or Matt Hughes, but it raised serious concerns with the UFC Light-Heavyweight champion. Be well aware they have nothing to do with his skills – the man is so good he wins even when he loses. The question now is one we never thought we’d have to ask: Has Lyoto Machida found his match?

We need to know the answer; Machida has to have an immediate rematch with Shogun. The only people that believe Lyoto won were the three judges and his dad. Fighters predicted a blowout by Machida, and were unsatisfied, like us fans, with the results. Shogun’s performance was so strong that even Dana White admitted he should have won the fight during the post-event press conference. The outcome of the fight had some serious impacts on each guy’s career – whether it was for better or worse.

The house of cards Lyoto built being the c-c-combo breaker for Thiago Silva and Rashad Evans’ undefeated streaks came tumbling down when he not only reverted back to his cautious, “evasive” style, but was finally on the receiving end of some real damage. People don’t see him as the untouchable Ka-rah-tay technician they believed him to be; now he’s a cat burglar after UFC 104.

The ‘robbed’ Shogun Rua may have lost the battle, but he’s won the war. Nobody looks at him the same way after this fight. The general consensus is that he should be champion. He proved he can go into the deep water and do damage at a pace, unlike the Shogun of old who would fade after minutes of intense offense. Perhaps most important of all, he showed that Machida is not unbeatable.

Judges aside, there is no question about who the better fighter was that night – emphasis on the “that night”. And there is the hook for the rematch. Just like snowflakes, fights at the top level are never exactly the same. Anderson Silva straightened Machida’s technical shortcomings backstage before he even got into the shower, and you can bet Shogun is gonna re-watch the fight like it’s his honeymoon tape and filter out the less effective stuff for gameplan v2.

Rua will likely keep the core strategy of targeting the thighs and body of Lyoto Machida because of how effective it was. It’s almost as if he gradually worked his strikes up from the legs to the stomach to the face; eventually landing headshots by the end. The winner of the fight was ironically beaten up more than the loser (Take that correct usage, Alanis!). Sapping away the power and the gas of Machida allowed Shogun to hone his offense so much that the champion was suspended by the California State Athletic Commission for a lip laceration.

Although Kurt Pellegrino and Matt Hamill showed that a ripped face isn’t a big deal, the hand damage Lyoto suffered is going to be the traffic jam on the road to Rematchville. Dana White wanted to have the fight on January 2nd, and Shogun agreed to it, but Machida’s bone spurs require surgery that will prevent him from training until later that month.

An immediate rematch is still the plan according to everyone. Lyoto’s pride is hurt just as much as his body, and he probably wants a mulligan for the fight everyone puts an asterisk next to. Shogun ‘won’ the fight with his own skill and nothing else; he’s probably eager to get rounds 6-10 on soon before his confidence goes away. Whatever the case, we’ll either see justice be served or get the all clear to stop caring about all of this controversy.