By Jayme Monsanto, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO – Current light-heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida retained his aura of invincibility at the Ultimate Fighting Championship this Saturday. After a very close and polemic fight, the Brazilian athlete kept his belt at the Staples Center, in LA.
The showdown between Lyoto and fellow Brazilian title contender Maurício “Shogun” Rua was much more balanced than expected. Machida’s UFC record before Saturday was fifteen straight victories and no losses. He was considered invincible, and was expected to defeat Shogun easily.
However, events inside the octagon did not go according to plan. Shogun controlled the fight for the majority of the twenty-five minutes of combat. He was much more offensive than Machida and set the pace of all five rounds. When time ran out and everyone expected a new champion to be announced, the judges announced their controversial decision. All three of them gave Machida the victory, by 49-48.
The questionable unanimous decision was met with boos from the Los Angeles crowd and protests at every MMA-specialized website. Most comments and e-mails demanded a rematch and criticized the judges’ call.
The reigning champion increased his record to 16-0, while Shogun’s numbers fell to 18-4. Machida is now tied for the second-best record in UFC history.
After the fight, UFC president Dana White said that he also thought Shogun should be the winner. Then he talked to both fighters, who agreed on scheduling a rematch fight “as soon as possible”. The date is yet to be announced.
In the other fights of the night, Cain Velasquez defeated Ben Rothwell by TKO (heavyweight class), Gleison Tibau beat Josh Neer by decision (catchweight fight), Joe Stevenson defeated Spencer Fisher by submission (lightweight class) and Antony Johnson knocked out Yoshiyuki Yoshida with only forty-one seconds of fight (welterweight class).
The next edition of the UFC (UFC 105) will be on November 15, and the main fight of the night will be between former heavyweight champion Randy Couture and Brandon Vera. The event will take place in Manchester, England, and no Brazilian fighters will take part in the competition.
In UFC 106, three Brazilian fighters will compete: Luiz Arthur Cane, Paulo Thiago, and Antonio Rogério Nogueira, twin brother of Antonio Rodrigo “Minotauro” Nogueira, former UFC heavyweight champion. The event is scheduled for November 21 in Las Vegas.