Don't Cry for Shogun Rua—He'll Be Just Fine
To say that people are upset about the decision for the main even of UFC 104 would be a great understatement. Some people are utterly outraged by what they see as being an abortion of justice.
Certainly the decision seems unfair, but is there really any lasting damage to account for all the outrage?
The Shogun fans, as long as they are sane, should eventually recover.
The sport and the UFC will certainly survive. In fact, I'm sure that the rematch will be carry with it much more fight than the first one, as the people who had counted out Shogun will not be so quick to discount his chances in the second bout.
The only real victim worth considering is Mauricio Rua himself, who was denied the belt that many people feel he deserved. However, whatever your opinion about the decision, there's no reason to feel sorry for Shogun Rua. In losing the decision, Shogun achieved far more than a moral victory.
Moral victories are the kind of little personal victories that might raise one's spirits following a defeat. Any Brazilian Jiu Jitsu whitebelt knows the experience of a moral victory after avoiding a submission for a five-minute roll against a bluebelt, despite being utterly dominated on points. You feel that you've achieved something, and the bluebelt might give you a little nod, but other than that, nobody really cares.
Shogun certainly got his moral victory, but he also achieved so much more.
Before this latest fight, many people didn't even believe that Shogun deserved the title shot against Machida, and a lesser number gave Shogun any chance of doing as well as he did.
Even if you believed the stories of how much Shogun's injuries had hindered him against Forrest Griffin and Mark Coleman, the prognosis against Machida didn't look good.
Shogun had his greatest successes in pride by being relentless and recklessly aggressive. Back in Pride, he was willing to take a shot or two, as long as it gave him the chance to fire back. If Shogun had fought against Machida in the same fashion that he had fought in Pride, he would probably have been knocked out.
Instead, Shogun's execution was brilliant, tactical, controlled and patient. Mike Goldberg said during the broadcast that "this is the old Shogun." For perhaps the only time in the broadcast, Goldberg was actually giving Shogun less credit than he was due.
This wasn't the old Shogun, because the old Shogun would have gotten himself smashed. The Shogun who showed up on Saturday night was some whole new monster.
Following the bout, the upside for Shogun looks bigger than ever. Now people are actually interested in seeing him fight again.
If Shogun had knocked out Machida in the first minute of the fight, most of the talk would have been debate about whether or not Machida was overrated and overhyped.
Instead, after waging a calculated war, everybody is talking about Shogun and how people think he won the fight.
Meanwhile, there's actually been some injustice towards Machida, who is being vilified for a decision that he didn't make, and comments that were said by Ed Soares, perhaps the most unlikable-sounding translater/manager in UFC history. Machida will ultimately be okay.
Back to Shogun.
The fight has also created a rivalry and a ton of hype for the rematch. Forget about all of the big fights in Shogun's past, because the next one is going to be bigger.
Because of his performance he's already guaranteed himself another shot at the title and at least a few more big fights after that. That's not a moral victory, that's cash, money, bling, bling.
Shogun's world is about to change because of this fight with Machida. He's earned a lot of respect, and he's going to earn a lot more money. I call that a material victory.
In the end, all that Shogun is missing is a little "W" beside his name and an over-sized fashion accessory. The "L" on his record won't weigh against him in the minds of anyone who should matter.
ESPN blogger Jake Rossen sympathized with Shogun, noting that Shogun deserved to have "something beautiful and shiny" to wake up beside in the morning. I'm not sure if Shogun's wife will take offense.
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