(Photo by Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images)
GueRRillaFight.com - 10.25.09
Shogun Rua: A Return to Form
Guerrilla had been on a hot streak, picking correctly most of the recent UFC main events. Like with all fighters, dominance is fleeting.
Coming into the main event at UFC 104 there was one question on the minds of fight fans and the press: Which Shogun was the fluke-the loser vs. Coleman, or the winner vs. Liddel?
The line spoke for itself. And many fans who once worshiped at the feet of Rua as the pound-for-pound best in the world were clearly not willing to reverse their decision to distance themselves from a former master in steep decline.
In hindsight, perhaps writing off a fighter of that regard as "shot" was a little premature. Just a little.
Considering Rua is still a month away from being 29 years old, maybe the disrespect went too far. It's fair to say that many fans who have not checked his bio in a while will be surprised to read that number.
Shogun Rua is well under 30. But the years of war spent in Pride have left an indelible mark in the minds of the faithless.
Too many fans were all too ready to accept that the downturn of Rua was for real, not just a setback for a man tending to serious injuries on his way back to the top. Count Guerrilla in that category. The Coleman fight in particular (despite the win for Rua) left a lasting impression that Rua could not handle the "next-gen elite," Lyoto Machida.
To be honest, I have to say that my gut feeling changed substantially when I saw Shogun in the cage prior to the fight. He just looked 100 percent to me, while Machida appeared, well...concerned.
Unlike any of his previous 15 wins, at no point in the match did Machida look completely confident of victory.
Certainly not after the first round. That round being, perhaps, the first round Machida had lost in his MMA
career (and that is astounding).
It's safe to say that Machida recognized within the first round, if not within the cage prior to the handshake, that Shogun might again be a beast.
The decision was poor and that is obvious, so we won't dwell on it. But for those quick to pounce on Dana White
and Zuffa and cry conspiracy, let's just have a quick reality check.
As heavy handed as White and "the brothers" are reputed to be (and it is their right to be so), the possibility of a corrupt decision influenced by the UFC itself is total garbage. Let's just squash that nonsense now.
As convenient as it was for the UFC to have an undefeated-perhaps-invincible fighter in each of the 170 lb, 185 lb and 205 lb divisions, the stupidity it would take to risk the roughly-one-zillion-dollar-franchise by trying to fix decisions is laughable.
Zuffa is many things but stupid is not one of them. What's more, White clearly thought Shogun won the fight. If you're even a tiny bit skilled at reading lips, White clearly said as much to Rua immediately after the fight.
And while the decision was poor, it was, at least, not an outrageously bad decision, the likes of which boxing has been plagued with for 100 years.
Rua should have been 48-47 or thereabouts on each of the judges cards, which is roughly how the estimable Sherdog had it.
Despite the fact that Shogun clearly won (solidified by taking the 5th round), it was a close fight. It was made even closer by the fact that Machida was a sitting champ.
We are not in the camp that claims this was the worst decision in the history of fighting (which our clearly excited and up-in-arms friend, Jamie Varner, stated on his Facebook page).
However, there most definitely should be a new champ at 205 lbs this morning. The lesson here is clear: Once you are considered the most dangerous man on the planet, you are forever a threat to anyone.