by Steven Marrocco – MMAWeekly.com
Mauricio “Shogun” Rua hopes to turn light heavyweight champ Lyoto Machida’s greatest attribute – timing – against him when the two square off at UFC 104 in October.
It’s the first 25-minute fight in Rua’s career, five minutes longer than his battles in the days of Pride. But that’s not a bad thing.
“I get very happy with that, because when you get to the first five-rounder of your career, it means you’re fighting for the belt,” he told MMAWeekly.com backstage at UFC 100. “I take it as a great thing. I always wanted to train for five rounds.”
Rua will begin his training shortly in Curitiba and decide two months out whether to move to Sao Paulo, where he and his new trainers bore down for an all-important fight with Chuck Liddell at UFC 97.
He emerged a new man with a first round knockout of the former light heavyweight champ, setting the stage for what could be his toughest challenge yet against Machida. Gone was the sluggish fighter who withered to Forrest Griffin and ran out of gas against old-timer Mark Coleman.
“Machida karate” is the current riddle of the light heavyweight class, with its angular stance, control of range, and explosive counter-strikes the bane of every fighter who encounters it in the Octagon.
It goes without saying, but most have not done a good job at adapting to the style. His training partners struggle.
“Sometimes, I ate some shots,” said Vitor Belfort, who often sparred with Machida at Black House in Brazil. “I ate five to get one.”
Rua thinks people are taking the wrong approach.
“Most of the guys that fought Lyoto… found a problem with patience, with finding the right moment to attack, or to counter-strike him,” he said. “Some guys try to rush it too much; some guys try to stay too patient, (and) they start to get nervous because of that.
“I think the key is the timing of the fight, to get the feeling of when to engage and when to counter-strike him. This is likely the key, to find the pace and the rhythm, mostly the timing of the strikes to be able to connect and to make it a fight. For sure, I’m going to concentrate on that and develop a good strategy.”
The main problem now, as Rua said, is finding sparring partners to emulate “The Dragon.”