In May of 2010, the Ultimate Fighting Championship's light heavyweight division had yet another change of hands.
Former Pride champion Mauricio "Shogun" Rua achieved revenge against fellow Brazilian Lyoto Machida with a first-round knockout.
Rua had no intentions of leaving the rematch in the hands of the judges, as he did in their first meeting when several people thought Machida had stolen the victory.
Now, flash forward to March as Rua looked to defend his title for the first time after a much-needed knee surgery sidelined the champ for close to a year. He would defend it against young up-and-comer Jon Jones.
Jones would later seize the title away from Rua in dominant form, as Jones landed several early attacks that Shogun could never recover from.
After the fight, many different excuses were used to explain why the once dominant champion was manhandled by the youngster.
Rua's camp claimed that an early knee from Jones "sucked the life" out of the former champ, while others have blamed the recovery from the knee surgery combined with the changing of the opponent from Rashad Evans.
As much as Rua and his camp would like to just put this fight behind them, the last man he defeated has said he thinks the "real" Shogun was not present at the Prudential Center at UFC 128.
According to ESPN.com, Lyoto Machida thinks that the previous theories could have played a part but that there may have been other factors that could have thrown Shogun off his game.
"I know Shogun has more to show than that. Maybe he failed to bring his game or maybe he felt the pressure of defending the belt for the first time," said Machida.
Machida continued, "As I've said before, there are other factors we don't know about, other factors that may have interfered. They changed opponents on him. That can interfere with a fight. I have no doubt he could have fought better."
Machida goes on to say that if the Shogun that fought him in Los Angeles, at UFC 104, fought in New Jersey at 128, then the fight would have been different and Shogun would have been much more competitive in the fight.
It will now be interesting to see if Rua will be able to rebound against Forrest Griffin in their rematch in Brazil this August at UFC 134.
Barring any injury to either fighter and with Rua's knee expected to make a full recovery, he will not have to deal with a changed opponent or feel the pressure of defending a UFC title, so no excuses will be warranted.
If what Machida claims is true, then we may see the 29-year-old return to his former self. However, if he is still reeling from such a devastating loss, then it could be the beginning of the end for Shogun.
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