It’s almost here. The fight we’ve all been dying to see since UFC 104 ended — Lyoto Machida vs. Shogun Rua 2 — is a little over a week away from going down in Montreal at UFC 113.
The question everyone’s been asking is what kind of fight will this be? Will we see five more rounds of Karate vs. Muay Thai or will it actually hit the ground this time? Well, neither fighter is giving away any specific details about their game plan for the rematch, however Shogun says he has been working on different strategies for Lyoto.
Rua, who was lauded for his calculated attacks against Machida, said he’s been planning and drilling alternative strategies but doesn’t forget that he’s facing an unorthodox striker.
“Many people think that taking the fight to the ground and working the ground with Machida would be a good way to win the fight, but that’s a very hard thing to (do) because Lyoto is a very good player on the ground and he’s trained a lot of sumo and wrestling, so he has a very good base,” said Rua. “Sometimes it’s very hard to get him down to the ground.
“When you prepare (for) a fight, you have to focus on the worst situation you can go through in a fight,” he continued. “Fighting Machida, the toughest situation you can find is fighting him standing up.”
Machida, on the other hand, plans to stick with the same strategy he used to win a highly controversial decision over Rua last October.
“My strategy is to come in and be prepared to take the fight wherever it goes,” said Machida through his manager and translator Ed Soares. “There’s not too much that’s going to change. I’ve worked on certain areas of my game to improve, but for the most part, I’m going to come in and apply my strategy.”
Much like everyone else, I’m not really sure what to expect on May 8. However, I really don’t see Machida straying too far from the style that’s shaped his entire career. He can’t allow Shogun to get him out of his rhythm and throw off his timing like he did in the first fight, but I’m not sure he can stop it either. In other words, don’t expect to see Machida suddenly outclass Shogun on the feet like he’s done to so many other opponents.
As for Shogun, I do think we’ll see more aggression out of him this time. Shogun says he doesn’t feel any pressure to finish the fight, but he knows exactly what can happen if he doesn’t. I expect to see a lot of leg kicks and body shots like the first fight, just with a little more urgency and emphasis on hurting Lyoto, especially down the stretch. I’m sure Shogun will attempt to take him down a few times over the course of the fight as well, but like before, it doesn’t sound like he’s going to waste too much energy trying.
One fight on the UFC 113 card you wouldn’t expect hit the ground is Kimbo Slice vs. Matt Mitrione. Yet, that’s exactly where Kimbo says he wants to take it. He plans to unleash a little ground-n-pound on Mitrione and “knock some blood out of his mouth.”
“I’m sure he’s probably going to try some takedowns, he’s going to come with some stupid kicks and try to do something stupid,” he said. “I hope he doesn’t poke me in my eye and try to win the fight that way (Mitrione won a TUF 10 fight against Scott Junk that included an eye poke). Other than that, I’m going to try to take this fool to the ground and knock him out.”
“I don’t like him, I don’t hate him, he’s like whatever,” he said. “He’s not a guy I would be friends with, or a guy I’d call a common enemy. But I do want to punch him in his face and knock some blood out of his mouth.”
Knowing that Kimbo is training with ATT now, Mitrione is hesitant to assume that Kimbo is only going to stand-and-bang. He’s not exactly sure what to expect, so he’s focusing on taking Kimbo out of his game by making him bleed.
“People base all kinds of things on assumptions,” Mitrione recently told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com). “I don’t know what Kimbo’s going to come in there (with); I don’t know what kind of fighter he’s going to be. I know last time he came in, he displayed a little bit of a ground game and a lot of patience and maturity.”
“Kimbo has a great camp right now,” Mitrione said. “I’m sure he’s learning every trick of the trade that he can possibly absorb. I’m sure that he’ll come in with some new tricks on how to fight a lefty.
“Knowing how fast he learns – at least from hearing it firsthand from everybody that was his teammate (on the show) – then I have no idea what to expect.”
“I’ve never seen Kimbo bleed, so I think if you can get in his face and intimidate him, make him bleed, make him taste his own blood … and see how he reacts to it, I think that would be pretty key,” Mitrione said.
Training pics via Tatame