With UFC President Dana White surprisingly absent from Tuesday’s UFC 104 press conference at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, headliners UFC light heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida and challenger Mauricio “Shogun” Rua vowed to put their friendship aside and display unique styles in the October 24 showdown.
“Lyoto is a nice guy and we’ve known each other for a while,” said Rua. “Even though we are friends, I got very surprised to see him on the plane and actually sitting next to me for the whole flight from Brazil to here. It was a funny situation, but we’re both professionals, we’re training very hard and we both want the same goal, so we’re gonna do our best.”
Machida improved to 15-0 in May with a second-round knockout of title-holder Rashad Evans, employing his elusive Karate-influenced style that has allowed him to win seven-straight bouts since joining the UFC in 2007, with his latest victory being referred by many as the start of the “Machida Era”.
“Lyoto is a standup fighter,” commented Rua. “I’m a standup fighter myself, but he comes from karate and is a very good counterstriker; he fights in a very efficient style. I’m a Muay Thai fighter and I fight much more in a pressing style by being aggressive. I think this is a big motivation for me, to show and prove that Muay Thai can be very efficient against his style.
“Each fight is a different story,” Rua continued. “To fight Chuck Liddell I believed I needed to emphasize boxing, and Sao Paulo has the best boxing in Brazil, so I went there to train and to prepare. For this fight against Lyoto I think I need different aspects of training, so me and my team talked about it and we decided to stay in Curitiba for this fight. My team is my team, but I’ll go wherever is best for my strategy and my opponent, and I’ll bring my team with me.”
A longtime PRIDE veteran, Rua looked unimpressive in losing his UFC debut to Forrest Griffin in late-2007 after previously winning five-straight, but back-to-back TKOs of Mark Coleman and Chuck Liddell in 2009 have propelled him into title contention.
“My style is karate,” said Machida “My personal style is counterstriking. Shogun is a very aggressive fighter with good knees, good punching, but I’ll try to push him into my style.
“I keep training a lot for the night of the fight,” Machida concluded. “This is my first title defense and I hope I’ll win. My opponent is tough, a great person, very good on the ground and (in his) striking, but I know one thing – I’ll keep doing my homework.”