UFC’s The Dragon Vs. Shogun: Fighter Profiles

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The UFC’s light heavyweight division has long held some of the most dynamic fighters in all of mixed martial arts, but none may be more skilled than Lyoto “The Dragon” Machida.

On October 24th in Los Angeles, the talented Brazilian takes his perfect record into the Octagon as he challenges Mauricio “Shogun” Rua for the UFC light heavyweight title. Machida has risen through the ranks of the UFC’s most electric division by using his unorthodox style, confusing and frustrating opponents on the road to his 15-0 record. He recently won the UFC light heavyweight title by destroying the previously undefeated Rashad Evans. Machida has used his Shotokan Karate background and adapted it successfully to MMA, carving out his own path to become an elite fighter.

Shotokan Karate is a traditional style of karate that develops strong basic techniques and unorthodox stances. It’s characterized by developing a wide base that provides stability and a solid foundation. The unique fighting style enables fighters to avoid damage while looking for an explosive counter-attack. The training is normally divided into three parts: kihon (karate basics), kata (developing patterns and movement which include punches, kicks, throws, sweeps, and blocks against imaginary opponents), and kumite (the application of kata to real opponents). The combination of the three stages of Shotokan training teaches swift attacks to the head or body using primarily counter-attacks. The techniques emphasize timing and distance in an attack of an opponent.

Machida’s father was a long-time Shotokan Master who trained his children in the ways of the Samurai at an early age. “The Dragon” has been developing his art for most of his life. In his MMA career, he has defeated notable fighters such as Rich Franklin, BJ Penn, and Thiago Silva. His style is often described as elusive. He creates his wide Shotokan stance, giving him the ability to lean into or away from his attacker. He cautiously waits until his opponent makes a mistake, and then once they do, Machida attacks them with a vicious barrage of punches, kicks, knees, and throws.

In Shotokan karate, each strike is intended to have the placement and the power to cripple an opponent. That Machida has never lost a single round in his UFC career speaks volumes about his unorthodox style. It obviously works.

Because of the success of the current UFC light heavyweight champion, and as Machida himself emphatically declared upon winning the title, “karate is back.” Now there’s one additional fighting discipline that mixed martial artists will either need to learn to incorporate into their repertoires, or they will have to learn to respect it. Even in a stacked division, Lyoto “The Dragon” Machida could hold the title for a long time.

The UFC light heavyweight title will be on the line October 24th in Los Angeles, California when current champion Lyoto “The Dragon” Machida makes his first title defense against fellow Brazilian Mauricio “Shogun” Rua.

Rua is coming off of a shocking knockout win at UFC 97 which saw him finish Chuck “Iceman” Liddell in the first round on strikes. Both Machida and Rua have enough in their arsenals to make this an outstanding main event.

Shogun started training in jiu-jitsu at an early age, when he became interested in the sport by watching his older brother Murilo “Ninja” Rua compete. Over years training with some of the best fighters in the world at ‘Chute Boxe’ Academy, Shogun earned his black belt and began studying Muay Thai and other combat disciplines. He is proficient on the ground and gifted on his feet, where fifteen of his eighteen wins came by KO or TKO.

His focus from the beginning was to be a world champion. Everyone around him knew that it was just a matter of time before the mixed martial arts prodigy reached that goal.

Standing at 6’1″ and 205 pounds, Shogun is the ideal size for the light heavyweight division. He has spent most of his career fighting in Japan, occasionally jumping weight classes to fight against the best competition.

In 2005, he won the Pride Middleweight Grand Prix and was well on his way towards MMA stardom. Unfortunately, in his next match against Mark “The Hammer” Coleman, Rua suffered a freak accident in the early stages of the fight when he fell after a Coleman takedown attempt and dislocated his elbow. Soon after recovering from surgery, Shogun once again exploded on the Japanese MMA scene, registering four wins in a row, all in convincing fashion. This success prompted a move to the UFC and a shot at world-wide recognition.

Despite being considered one of the best light heavyweights in the world and a heavy favorite, Shogun lost in his Octagon debut to Forrest Griffin at UFC 76 by rear-naked choke late in the third round. His next fight in the UFC was a rematch with his former Pride nemesis Mark Coleman. Coleman didn’t look his age that night and showed a lot of heart in a losing effort. Shogun, on the other hand, looked out of shape and, at times, sloppy, prompting many to wonder if he was past his prime.

To silence the critics, Shogun began training harder than he ever had before. He enlisted the help of long-time Chute Boxe striking coach Sergio Cunha, who has worked with some of the best in the sport, including Wanderlei Silva, Anderson Silva and BJ Penn. Cunha helped Shogun prepare for the Chuck Liddell fight, which showed MMA fans not familiar with organizations outside of the US a very polished and dynamic fighter. Even when Shogun made his entrance to the cage, people could see a vast difference. It didn’t take long before Liddell was eating a Shogun left hook and laying flat on his back.

Shogun’s strikes are calculated and precise, and put fear in the eyes of most opponents. With a career record of 18-3, Shogun has defeated many big-name fighters, including Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, Liddell and current Strikeforce heavyweight champion Alistair Overeem.

Something often overlooked is Shogun’s takedown ability. He throws his punches to set up takedowns, and he’s managed to put some of the best wrestlers in MMA on their backs. Assuming he can do the same against Machida – who hasn’t really been tested much from his back – he will have more than a puncher’s chance at claiming the belt.

Another tool that he utilizes well is kicks, which he throws with precision and regularity. Overall, Shogun is an experienced fighter with enormous talent, capable of winning a fight no matter where it ends up.

The main event at UFC 104 is a battle between similarly gifted fighters. If Shogun can push the pace and take command of the Octagon, he has a chance to put an end to the Machida era before it even begins.

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2 Responses to “UFC’s The Dragon Vs. Shogun: Fighter Profiles”

  1. Jennifer says:

    Machida will jab him to death.

  2. Marcos Squivs says:

    Probably the best UFC 104 prediction ever. Not taking anything away from any fighter, giving Shogun a chance, not making Machida look like a fucking god.

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