Almost five months ago Lyoto Machida squared off against Mauricio "Shogun" Rua in an epic five round battle. At the end of the fight before any hands were raised the majority opinion was that Rua was going to be the UFC's new Light Heavyweight champion.
However, as we all know "The Dragon" was awarded what has become a controversial decision and walked away with the gold that night. Everyone from Dana White to a crop of the UFC fighters felt that Shogun had won the fight.
My policy has always been a win is a win.
Like the many of you I'm sure, I felt Shogun won the fight. I thought that he was the one who pushed the pace throughout the fight and controlled the octagon for a majority of the time.
And yet, like I said, a win is a win. The fight was close. Let's put our feelings aside for the underdog in Rua and the sympathy we have for him because we believe he was "robbed".
This fight could have gone either way.
This is besides the point. The fight and results are old news, I'm sure debated and discussed to death long before I began writing here. However, what I have noticed in my travels through MMA forums across the web is a sudden dislike of Lyoto Machida.
I can't seem to grasp why anyone should dislike him.
He fought his fight. He is not responsible for the way the judges scored the match. You can't hold him accountable for the way things went that night.
We should be praising Machida.
The UFC has a clear tendency to "over hype" their fighters. Machida has earned that hype.
He has put down Rich Franklin, Stephan Bonnar, and BJ Penn before arriving to the UFC. Granted Penn was fighting well above his natural weight, it is still an accomplishment for Machida.
He arrives in the UFC and rattles off three straight wins. Then stops Sokoudjou (who was suppose to be the next big thing in the UFC), he then dominates Tito Ortiz, drops Thiago Silva, and takes the belt from Rashad Evans by a devastating KO.
That is as impressive of a track record as just about anyone in the UFC and maybe in all of MMA. He is clearly top five in the P4P conversation and yet I feel he has negative feelings held against based on the judges decision.
So I appeal to you UFC and MMA fans to really think about what Machida means to the sport. If he goes on to defeat Shogun again at UFC 113, he will elevate himself to another level.
The UFC Light Heavyweight division is easily its deepest. For Lyoto to be 17-0 in his MMA career and 9-0 in the UFC (assuming he defeats Shogun at 113) is a great accomplishment for any fighter. I would go as far as saying that an impressive win over Shogun would begin to put him in the conversation with BJ Penn and GSP.
When I sit down to watch UFC 113, I won't be rooting for anyone in particular. I'm sure there will be fans out there hoping that Shogun gets his "justice" and I'm sure there will be fans out there that was still rooting for Lyoto.
I'm just hoping that when that time comes, fans are rooting for someone for the right reasons rather than something out of the fighter's control.
Don't hate Machida for the judge's decision, appreciate him for being one of the few guys that deserves the "UFC hype."