MONTREAL — They say time heals all wounds.
However, for Mauricio (Shogun) Rua, the only way to get over the sting of being on the losing end of one of the most controversial decisions in MMA history, is too inflict enough punishment on light-heavyweight champion Lyoto (The Dragon) Machida to win the rematch.
Who said violence never solves anything?
“I approach this fight thinking that we are tied because I learned some things about his game, he learned some things about my game,” Rua said through his translator at the UFC 113 pre-fight press conference. “I know this is going to be a battle because he’s a great fighter. So, regardless, I’m always confident and ready for whatever happens.”
The two meet again in the headlining bout of UFC 113 in Montreal this Saturday. The show will also feature a co-main event between Josh (Kos) Koscheck and Paul (Semtex) Daley, with the winner getting a shot at welterweight champion Georges (Rush) St. Pierre.
At UFC 104 last October in Los Angeles, the two fighters went the distance in a technical bout that saw Rua (18-4) deliver a torrent of leg kicks to Machida (16-0). Though many felt Rua won, judges Cecil Peoples, Marcos Rosales and Nelson Hamilton each scored it 48-47 in favour of Machida.
Rua has gone back to watch the bout and still believes he was robbed.
“Even after watching the fight, I cannot understand how the judges saw it and why they scored it the way they did,” Rua said. “But I don’t really care. This is in the past now and I have to think about the rematch.”
Machida remains steadfast that he won four of the five rounds in the first bout, one round more than each of the judges awarded him. Though critics are entitled to their opinions, he’s put any controversy behind him.
“Yes, it was a very controversial fight, but that’s in the past now,” Machida said through his translator. “I don’t worry too much about what happened in the past.
“What I’m focused on is going in there, employing what I trained and doing my game plan. I don’t focus too much on what I should be changing. I have a strategy. I’m going to go in with a lot more of an appetite and try to finish the fight as soon as I can. But I’m going to stick to my strategy and win this fight.”
UFC president Dana White said he expects both guys to be more aggressive this time out.
“I know what they don’t want to have happen – they don’t want it to go to the judges scorecards,” White said. “I’m expecting a much different fight than the first one and I’m expecting both guys to go for the finish.”
Despite White’s expectations, Rua admitted it would be a mistake for him to adopt his usual wild style against a tricky opponent like Machida.
“Each fight is a different fight, so you have to prepare accordingly,” Rua said. “As I’ve said in previous interviews, Machida is a different type of fighter. He’s a very elusive fighter, a very smart fighter. So you cannot approach a fight against him the same way you would approach a fight against another guy.
“Obviously, I would feel happier with a fight against a normal guy, so I could go into my normal fighting style.”
The last time Rua fought in Montreal, he knocked out former light-heavyweight champion Chuck (The Iceman) Liddell at UFC 97. This Saturday, he wants nothing more than to win a championship in Canada.
“For me, the feeling of winning the bout here in Canada would be great,” Rua said. “I like Canada a lot, I have friends here. The fans here are awesome. Canada has likely the most avid MMA fans, alongside the U.S. It would have great meaning for me to win the belt here.”