by Jeff Cain – MMAWeekly.com
Ultimate Fighting Championship light heavyweight titleholder Lyoto “The Dragon” Machida has recovered from hand surgery and is ready to rematch top contender Mauricio “Shogun” Rua.
” I just spoke with him and he’s already started hitting pads and hitting mits, and he says his hand feels great,” Machida’s manager, Ed Soares, told MMAWeekly.com.
The hand injury was a lingering one that began after Machida’s knockout win over Thiago Silva at UFC 94 in January of 2009.
“Before even the Rashad fight it was bothering him, and in between the Rashad and Shogun fights he went to a specialist down in Brazil. The specialist kind of pointed out the problems with it,” Soares explained.
“He had that mentality the show must go on. He just kind of roughed through it, but he said that this last training camp leading up to the Shogun fight there were a lot of times where he had problems. It would be hurting during training when he hit, and once he went to the specialist here they looked at it and they took care of it.
“There were actually four parts on his hand, some bone spurs that they needed to take out of there,” added the titleholder’s manager. “They actually found a little bone fragment in there too.”
The first bout with Rua was a closely contested match. Some felt Machida was on the gracious end of a bad decision, and for the first time in his UFC career, looked mortal.
“Typically Lyoto takes two to three minutes to find the rhythm of a fight and he gets into the rhythm. Unfortunately, it was the first time not only for Lyoto, but for his cornermen, for everybody that they saw Lyoto not get into the rhythm of the fight,” said Soares of the UFC 104 bout. “The reason, only God knows, sometimes people just don’t feel 100-percent, or don’t feel great that night, or who knows what it is.
“Never at any point was Lyoto in any danger. All (Rua) did was throw leg kicks. I mean Lyoto, two or three times in the fight, had Shogun rocked and could have potentially finished the fight. Unfortunately, he didn’t, but with that whole fight, I still believe Lyoto won the fight,” continued Soares. “I think it was three rounds to two. I think Lyoto won the first three rounds, and Shogun won the last two.”
It’s difficult to say whether the 31-year-old fighter had an off night at UFC 104 in October, or if the former Pride champion, Rua, is simply a difficult stylistic match-up for the undefeated Black House trained Machida.
Soares believes it was a little of both.
“It was obvious that, that wasn’t the best Lyoto that anybody has ever seen. And you’ve got to take your hat off to Shogun, because Shogun fought the best fight I’ve ever seen Shogun fight,” commented Soares, who manages three world champions: Lyoto Machida, Anderson Silva, and World Extreme Cagefighting featherweight titleholder Jose Aldo.
“People say it was like the old Shogun. I think the fight that he fought was better than the old Shogun. I think he stuck with his strategy, but I really don’t believe he had an ending to the strategy.
“We’ll have to settle it in May when we face him again.”
The rematch is scheduled to be the main event of UFC 113 on May 8 in Montreal.