Shogun Working on New Strategy for Machida


Mauricio “Shogun” Rua is well past his unanimous decision defeat to UFC light heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida six months ago. Now he’s focusing on a new strategy to implement in their awaited rematch at UFC 113 on May 8 at the Bell Centre in Montreal.

Rua and Machida appeared on a conference call Tuesday discussing the second match and how this next one will differ from their UFC 104 encounter. On that night, Machida was awarded the unanimous decision over five, grueling rounds against Rua, who stacked his offense with leg kicks. The discrepancy between the judges’ scorecards and those of others who watched the fight encouraged UFC President Dana White to secure an immediate rematch.

“I don’t feel any pressure at all (to finish this next fight),” said Rua through his manager Eduardo Alonso’s translation. “My goal whenever I fight is to give my best performance. That’s the pressure I put on myself and the only pressure I put on myself. I don’t think about controversy or any thoughts on what happened, because I think this can only hinder an athlete.”

Machida said after having six months to reflect on and review the bout, he still felt that the decision was correct. Accordingly, he said he wouldn’t veer too far from what he’d done the first time.

“My strategy is to come in and be prepared to take the fight wherever it goes,” said Machida through his manager and translator Ed Soares. “There’s not too much that’s going to change. I’ve worked on certain areas of my game to improve, but for the most part, I’m going to come in and apply my strategy.

Rua, who was lauded for his calculated attacks against Machida, said he’s been planning and drilling alternative strategies but doesn’t forget that he’s facing an unorthodox striker.

“Many people think that taking the fight to the ground and working the ground with Machida would be a good way to win the fight, but that’s a very hard thing to (do) because Lyoto is a very good player on the ground and he’s trained a lot of sumo and wrestling, so he has a very good base,” said Rua. “Sometimes it’s very hard to get him down to the ground.

“When you prepare (for) a fight, you have to focus on the worst situation you can go through in a fight,” he continued. “Fighting Machida, the toughest situation you can find is fighting him standing up.”

Machida, undefeated in 16 career fights, has not been an easy opponent to crack. The 31-year-old Japanese-Brazilian fighter’s striking, based on the teachings and technique of Shotokan karate, presents itself at odd angles and has a counter-aggressive pacing that confuses opponents. Rua, a 2005 Pride grand prix champion, has been the only one to push Machida through five rounds, a recent development that has actually given Machida some solace.

“I believe that one of the main things about a championship bout is that you go five rounds, and we’ve trained that a lot,” he said. “I’m always confident, but it does make me (more) confident that I went in there and fought for five rounds.”

Another benefit of their extended first affair, said Machida, was that it gave the fighters the opportunity to study each other.

“Being in there for 25 minutes, I’m sure that he noticed some things about me and I noticed some things about him,” said Machida. “That’s what the great thing about the rematch is, is that we’re both a lot more familiar with each other than the first time we met.”

• Asked if he might have underestimated Rua in their first match, Machida stated that he never undersells an opponent: “I never underestimated Shogun. I knew he was a tough fighter, and as you can see, it was a very tough fight. I never underestimate anybody and I didn’t underestimate Shogun. A fight’s a fight and you never know what’s going to happen until you get up there and start fighting.”

• Rua on the scoring value allotted (or not allotted) for his leg-kick attack in the first bout: “I think there should be some better guidelines for scoring and a way to put weight in each kind of striking and way of fighting.”

• When asked if he could someday become complacent with fighting, like Anderson Silva has been described of late, Machida answered: “I find it very difficult for me to act that way in the ring. Everybody’s different. I think Anderson has a little bit more of that style. He’s a little more at ease in the ring. He likes to play around. It’s just more of his style. I have a different style in fighting, so I don’t think I’ll have that type of situation happen to me.”

• Rua said one of his biggest mistakes upon entering the UFC was not procuring himself a cage to train in right away: “When I fought Mark Coleman (at UFC 93 in January 2009), I was in good shape. I was well trained, but some things were lacking. I didn’t really have a good notion of space inside the Octagon because I’d never trained in the cage before. That was the biggest difference that affected my performance in the fight.” Rua said he now has an Octagon-size cage in his Universidade da Luta gym in Curitiba, Brazil.

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