The biggest summer in UFC history is set to kick off this Saturday night with one of the most anticipated rematches of all time.
Live from the Bell Centre in Montreal, UFC light heavyweight champion Lyoto “The Dragon” Machida defends his title again against his toughest challenger to date, Mauricio ‘Shogun” Rua.
Their last meeting in October 2009 at UFC 104 ended in one of the most controversial decisions in the history of UFC, with Machida squeaking out a 48-47 victory in a 5-round decision.
The fight was so razor close, and many people, including UFC President Dana White and former light heavyweight champions Quinton Jackson, Rashad Evans and Randy Couture stated afterwards that they believe Rua actually won the fight.
The controversy over the decision was made even worse after the fight when one of the judges, Nelson “Doc” Hamilton who is one of the most respected mixed martial arts officials in the world, told the media his view of the action was blocked for most of the fourth round, and after watching the fight on tape, he would have given the round, and then the fight, to Rua. Even if Hamilton’s score had changed, giving the fight to Rua on his card, Machida still would have won a 2-1 split decision.
Judge Cecil Peoples didn’t help matters when he explained his reasoning behind scoring the fight for Machida: “Although Rua threw a lot of low kicks they were not as damaging as Lyoto’s diverse attack in the earlier rounds, which is why I scored the first three rounds for Machida. You have to keep in mind we always favor the fighter who is trying to finish the fight, and leg kicks certainly don’t do that.”
The problem was that Machida strikes were unable to hurt Rua, despite his attempts to “finish the fight,” while Rua’s kicks clearly had hurt Machida’s ribs and both of his legs. Also, Rua connected with 82 strikes, while Machida only landed 42 for the entire fight.
In the end, Rua out-struck Machida and did more damage, but lost because Hamilton couldn’t see the action and Peoples didn’t respect the effectiveness of Rua’s leg kicks.
None of that matters on Saturday night though when these combatants step back into the cage to prove who is the better fighter.
Also on the card is the return to the Octagon of internet sensation Kimbo Slice, as he takes on fellow Ultimate Fighter contestant Matt Mitrione
Then on Saturday, May 29, the long-awaited matchup between last season's Ultimate Fighter coaches Quinton “Rampage” Jackson and “Suga” Rashad Evans will finally take place.
This fight was originally scheduled for late last year following the conclusion of TUF, but a falling out between Rampage and UFC over Jackson’s desire to be in the upcoming A-Team movie led to a war of words between Jackson and Dana White, and then a short-lived retirement from the cage for Jackson.
Eventually both sides worked things out and the Memorial Day weekend date was set for this fight.
Finally on July 3 UFC heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar returns to the cage for the first time in a year when he battles interim heavyweight champion Shane Carwin.
Lesnar’s health issues which sidelined him for the last year have been well documented, but he has received clearance to return to the cage to face Carwin in a fight originally scheduled for last November.
Carwin looks to be Lesnar’s toughest challenger to date. The former Division II champion wrestler is 12-0 in the cage with 7 knockouts. None of those 12 fights have gone past 4 minutes. In fact, only 2 have even gone past 2 minutes. is first fight 5 years ago went 2:11 and his fight last March against former UFC heavyweight champion Frank Mir lasted all of 3:48 seconds.
With these three main events, plus UFC’s first ever show in Boston coming up in August, the promotion looks to have one of its most profitable stretches in its short history.
Minnesotans go 1-2 on Thursday night:
Minnesotans Roger Huerta and Carey Vanier were both sent packing from the Bellator lightweight tournament last night at the Wang Center in Boston.
Huerta was upset by Pat Curran, who won a three-round decision 29-28, while Vanier lost in the second round to last year's lightweight tournament runner-up Toby Imada by submission to an armbar in the second round.
"I take my hat off to Pat Curran," said Huerta after the fight. "I started out pretty flat and he capitalized. Ultimately, it's my fault for leaving it up to the judges. It's really tough for me to swallow, but now I just need to regroup and look to the future."
The only Minnesotan to win on Thursday night was heavyweight Cole Konrad, who looked terrible winning an awful three-round decision over Pat Bennett.
Konrad had a great opening round, dominating Bennett on the ground and laying into him with some great ground-and-pound, but he was unable to finish Bennett off.
By the second round, both fighters were clearly out of gas, with Konrad circling Bennett for five minutes with both hands at his side and sucking wind. The third round was more of the same, with Konrad throwing the occasional straight punch and a couple of times he grabbed Bennett in a clinch and bullied him up against the cage, but Bennett quickly escaped.
The crowd of about 800 people booed the third round and heavily booed Konrad when he was announced as the winner.
“I learned a lot about myself and a lot about the fight game in general tonight," Konrad told the media at the post-fight press conference. "There's definitely a lot of areas I'm going to focus on developing, but a win is a win and I'm just happy to be a part of Bellator.