When I watched Machida-Shogun (UFC 104), I was scared for Lyoto Machida, my favorite MMA fighter. I had never seen him get hit so much. He was getting tagged with body kicks, leg kicks and punches and elbows to the head. I all but expected to see him lose in a unanimous decision when the final bell sounded.
However, after reviewing footage from the fight (see for yourself), I don't think Mauricio "Shogun" Rua was "robbed," as many - including Shogun himself - may feel.
The first two rounds were close and could've gone either way. Machida had the edge in the third, on the strength of the combinations he landed with 35 seconds left in the round. Shogun took the fourth and fifth.
If the judges gave the first two rounds to Machida, and two of them (Marcos Rosales and Cecil Peoples) did (check out official judges' scores), it was going to be Machida's fight.
Luck was on Lyoto Machida's side in a close fight, which means he must learn.
"You Must Learn (Live from Caucus Mountain Remix)"
by Boogie Down Productions
Lyoto Machida must learn to either evade kicks or jam them, depending on the situation. He needs to fight from afar to avoid getting kicked in the legs and body like last time, or else it could get ugly, like Aldo-Faber or Hughes-Renzo.
When he sees an opening, he must rapidly close distance and counter any roundhouse kick with a well-timed straight punch to the face, neutralizing the power of Shogun's devastating kicks. He was doing some of this in UFC 104, but he must refine this technique more, or else someone will figure out how to beat him, even if it may not necessarily be Shogun.
I also feel Lyoto Machida could vary the angles more in his combinations and learn to jab better, like how Anderson Silva or Jose Aldo do. I wonder if Machida has gotten some tips from Silva, his good friend and stablemate. If the two aren't going to fight, they might as well share tips on how to fight.
I have a feeling that Machida has learned from the first Shogun fight, talked it over with his team and made adjustments for UFC 113. I think he'll be better prepared to fight Shogun and come out on top with a convincing unanimous decision, even taking into account the adjustments Shogun would've made.
But even if he beats Shogun, there will be many more challengers trying to sever the head of The Dragon
So ultimately, Lyoto Machida must learn.