|Lyoto (The Dragon) Machida will defend his light-heavyweight championship against Mauricio (Shogun) Rua at UFC 104. (UFC photo)
At first glance, it would seem almost impossible to faze Lyoto (The Dragon) Machida.
The undefeated UFC light-heavyweight champion is known for always remaining focused and composed during a fight, regardless of what his opponents throw at him.
However, Machida (15-0) will be the first to tell you that no one is invincible. He even admits to feeling pressured going into his UFC 84 bout with Tito Ortiz.
"I think no one is unbeatable; anybody can be beaten," Machida said through his translator. "But that motivates me to keep going out there, train hard and stay focused.
"Every fight presents a different level of difficulty, but one that stands out is definitely the Tito Ortiz fight. Not because of any technical aspect, but more the things that were going on outside of the ring."
At the time, it was thought Machida would be Ortiz's last opponent in the UFC. Though they have since buried the hatchet, Ortiz and UFC president Dana White had been at each other's throats for years and were constantly insulting each other in the press. With Ortiz leaving the company, many speculated Machida was handpicked to make The Huntington Beach Bad Boy look foolish on the way out.
Though Machida would go on to earn a unanimous decision victory in a memorable scrap, he admits the pressure took him off his game a bit.
"With the problems between Tito and Dana, I felt I was brought in and had a lot of weight on my shoulders to beat Tito for more that just the reason of beating Tito," Machida said. "It was more for political reasons. So I definitely started to feel the pressure -- more the mental pressure than the technical pressure."
Luckily for Machida, the lead up to his UFC 104 title defense against Mauricio (Shogun) Rua is free of any politics. Since he can focus squarely on the technical aspects of the fight, the only pressure comes from facing a tough opponent.
"I've followed Shogun's career for a long time and I watched him all though PRIDE," Machida said. "He's always been a guy who's treated me very well -- super respectful and humble; he's not a guy who has arrogance in him.
"As a fighter, everyone knows the accomplishments that he has earned in his career. He is the (2005 PRIDE grand prix) champion and he's had a lot of great fights to make the country of Brazil proud. We're professionals, we know each other and we respect each other. But at the end of the day, we both want the same thing and that's to be the light-heavyweight champion."
UFC 104 will mark Machida's first title defence since knocking out Rashad Evans to win the championship at UFC 98. While this could mean additional pressure for some, Machida said he has the same mindset that led him to the gold in the first place.
"My thought process is not much different than before (I won the championship)," Machida said. "Before, I came in to win the belt. (Now,) I don't look at it as though I'm going to defend my belt. Every time I defend my belt, I'm not there to defend the belt -- I'm there to win the belt again."