After five tension-filled rounds of kicking and clinching at the Staples Center on Oct. 24, Bruce Buffer grabbed the mike. He announced that three judges had given the final decision on the main event fight of UFC 104: 48-47 for Lyoto Machida.
Unanimous Decision for the invincible, untouchable Dragon.
It turns out, I wasn't the only one who was angry. Almost instantly after Buffer's announcement, the Los Angeles crowd erupted, booing furiously. They instinctively realized that something was wrong, or "very" wrong. They knew better than the judges that Mauricio "Shogun" Rua won that fight.
I wrote an article some time ago predicting that Shogun would be Machida's toughest threat, and readers responded favorably, agreeing with my view-point. But the fight at UFC 104 not only showed Shogun bringing the fight to Machida, but "winning" it altogether.
I won't even talk about how horrible a judge Cecil Peoples is.
That man could watch a five-hour documentary about World War II and still tell people that Germany won the war. I fear that if he had been a soccer referee in England, the hooligans would have literally eaten him alive.
I want to say that he should give up judging and just write "The Complete Idiot's Guide to UFC Judging," (by Cecil Peoples; the judge behind such critically acclaimed decisions of fights including Hamill versus Bisping, Machida versus Rua), but I will stop my rant at this point. After all, two more idiots scored the same way as Peoples did. Preposterous.
Of course, I am very aware of the judging philosophy that has governed title fights; to get the belt, you have to "convincingly" beat the champ.
I do not disagree with the philosophy itself; the rule sounds intuitively correct, but the UFC judges have already exposed their almost comical ineptitude in following that rule. At other times, they have even displayed the mind-boggling audacity to trash the rule completely.
Just watch the title fight for UFC 86. Did Forrest Griffin lay a "Ass-Whooping" on Quinton Jackson?
That fight was arguably "less" closer than Machida vs. Shogun, since there were clear occasions during which either fighter was hurt or in trouble. Rampage knocked Griffin down in the first round, Griffin dominated Rampage on the ground for the second round, and the list of inflicted damages goes on.
While no one clearly dominated the other, every one could see that Griffin was the more active, busier man that night. He tore down Rampage bit by bit, which was exactly what Shogun did to Machida.
And do you remember what happened next? Forrest Griffin, the 2005 TUF (The Ultimate Fighter) winner, was crowned the new light heavyweight champion.
He earned the belt basically by throwing a million leg-kicks (which Shogun, the 2005 Pride Middle Weight Grand Prix Winner, did the same against Machida, if not better) and throwing haymakers (Shogun landed cleaner elbows and hooks). He won the belt even though Rampage knocked him down and had him in trouble at numerous occasions. That is some great judging right there.
Shogun landed about fifty leg kicks on Machida, and some devastating body kicks. He was the aggressor for the whole fight.
Machida was hesitant and timid for 25 minutes, but that was "because" of Shogun's game plan to stay poised and ready. Machida, a so-called "Champion," did less than what Rampage did against Griffin. And Machida still kept his belt, while Rampage got so mad about his loss that he went on a rampage on the Las Vegas high way.
I sure hope Shogun doesn't get that mad, although I won't be too surprised if he did something similar, like walking up to a random Karate dojo and tearing the place down with Chute-Boxe-Certified knees and soccer-kicks.
I will not go too in-depth about how each rounds were scored; rounds two to five were essentially repeats of the first one, with round two being slightly debatable. I basically scored the fight as 49-46 for Shogun, and would not have been surprised if the judges gave 50-45 for Shogun.
It was Rua that was more active in the clinch, and he landed the more stinging and powerful leg-strikes. He was the one actively looking for the takedown; Rua controlled the pace of the whole fight.
Shogun was never in trouble. He swiftly ended the UFC-Hype behind Machida; at least now, no one can say that Machida hasn't lost a single round inside the Octagon. From my perspective, he just lost five rounds out of five. Machida lost that fight.
I foresee that as long as judges score the fight this way (favoring the champ) and as long as Cecil Peoples keeps on judging, Machida will be holding on his belt for a while. Why? Machida did enough to "keep" the belt. And he will stay that way.
He never saw the need to put himself in danger. He never did anything that put Shogun in danger, and of course Shogun had trouble smashing Machida's face in since Lyoto was back-pedalling like what a "true" champion should do for main-event title fights.
Anderson Silva received the same kind of criticism when he fought Thales Leites at UFC 97, but that case was different; Leites was the one who did not "want" to engage. In UFC 104 it was Machida, the champion, who was afraid of engaging. Of course, he couldn't see an "opening"; that was Shogun's game plan—a plan that worked brilliantly, and a plan that ironically led to his own "loss".
So, I guess the only way to beat him is to knock him out. Decisions will rarely work against Machida. He is the king of decisions. Shogun will knock him out next time.
I am mad right now, but after some time passes, I will be a happy man again. But Lyoto Machida will always remain as a tentative and gun-shy champion. He knew he lost this fight.
He "thanked" the judges for the decision when Joe Rogan asked him for his opinion. That's not something that should come out of a champion's mouth right after a lackluster fight. When the bell rang to signal the end of the fight, Shogun put his hands up, shouting and smiling.
Machida, in comparison, looked and acted like a defeated fighter.
Shogun will get his rematch, and he will destroy Machida soon enough. I will be waiting for that day. And that day will come; Machida knows it better than anyone else.
Oh, and a note to Cecil Peoples: Don't forget to check under your bed everyday from now on. Shogun might be hiding underneath.
Or even worse, Wanderlei Silva. He happens to be Shogun's best friend.