By Thomas Gerbasi
MONTREAL, May 8 – It wasn’t too long ago that Mauricio “Shogun” Rua was written off as a serious contender after he lost his UFC debut to Forrest Griffin in 2007. Saturday night at the Bell Centre, Rua – two knee surgeries, three wins and a controversial loss later – is the UFC light heavyweight champion of the world after a stunning first round knockout of previously unbeaten Lyoto Machida in the main event of UFC 113. Watch post-fight interview
“I had a serious injury in 2007 with the knee surgeries, but I always believed and used it as motivation to fight for my dreams,” said Rua.
The bout was a rematch of a UFC 104 bout last October that saw Machida win a disputed five round unanimous decision over Rua. This time, the former PRIDE Grand Prix champion came out fast and left no doubts or questions.
“For this fight, I tried not to think about the first fight, and all the controversy served as motivation for me to train hard, believe in it, come here, and get this win,” said Rua. “In the first fight I trained and studied Lyoto Machida’s game and tried to fight according to his style, but in a safer way. For this fight, I knew him better, so I tried to exploit him, and take more risks and chances to try to finish the fight.”
Rua opened the fight with a kick to the legs and one of his patented flurries of punches. Machida fired back with a punch upstairs that got Rua’s attention, but the Curitiba native was clearly intent on pushing the action and keeping Machida on the defensive. It was Machida scoring the bout’s first takedown though, but neither man was able to take control on the mat, and the two stood. Again, Rua went after Machida aggressively, and Machida responded with a takedown, and after a stalemate on the mat, the fighters stood. Machida stood in the pocket with his dangerous foe, but after missing a left hand, Rua clipped the champion with a right hand that dropped him to the mat. It was then that one of the game’s great finishers showed his stuff once again as he went immediately into the mount position and fired off a crushing series of punches that forced referee Yves Lavigne to stop the fight at the 3:35 mark.
“When I connected with the overhand right, I already noticed that he was going out,” said Rua, whose finishing sequence. “Then I took the opportunity to punch him on the ground until the referee would stop the fight, but I actually stopped punching a little before the referee stopped the fight. But when we see that opportunity, we go in there for the kill because sometimes in the fight you only have that one opportunity.”
With the win, Rua improves to 19-4; Machida falls to 16-1.