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UFC 104:

UFC president leans toward rematch between Lyoto Machida and Shogun Rua

After controversial win for champion, rematch of UFC 104 seems likely

Lyota Machida-Shogun Rua UFC104

Justin M. Bowen

Mauricio Shogun Rua, right, connects with Lyoto Machida Saturday night during the main event of UFC 104 at Staples Center in Los Angeles. Machida won a controversial unanimous decision for the UFC light heavyweight title.

Machida Takes UFC 104

After a controversial win for Lyoto Machida, a rematch of UFC 104 seems likely.

Machida wins by decision

Lyoto Machida celebrates Saturday night after the main event of UFC 104 at Staples Center in Los Angeles. Machida won a controversial unanimous decision for the UFC light heavyweight title. Launch slideshow »

UFC 104 undercard

Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher in the front row Saturday night during UFC 104 at Staples Center in Los Angeles. Launch slideshow »

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LOS ANGELES — Lyoto Machida entered the Octagon Saturday night under a roar of cheers as the undisputed UFC light heavyweight champion.

Twenty-five minutes of war later, he left it in a wave of boos — still the UFC champion, but certainly not the undisputed one.

“I thought Shogun won the fight,” said UFC President Dana White afterward. “When you go round by round, I had Shogun winning. It drives me crazy when these guys put so much time and work into these fights and then not get the right call.”

There’s no question that the main event at Staples Center was close, although it appeared an overwhelming majority felt that Rua deserved to win.

Welterweight Anthony Johnson and lightweight Joe Stevenson, two fighters on the UFC 104 card, both said they believed Rua had won the fight.

Rua also believed he had done enough to end the ‘Machida Era.’

“I feel like I was able to use my strategy well and my corner was telling me that I was winning the fight,” Rua said. “Everyone I have spoke with after the fight has told me they thought I won. What can I do? It’s very disappointing.”

The judges of the fight disagreed, unanimously declaring Machida the winner by a score of 48-47.

For Machida and his manager, Ed Soares, that’s the end of it.

“Three judges scored the fight and all three judges awarded me the unanimous decision,” said Machida through Soares’s interpretation. “I’m the one that called the fight, the judges were.”

A close first round proved to be the source of controversy, as Machida clearly won the second and third rounds while Rua finished strong and took the final two.

It was obvious fans believed Rua had won the fight, as Staples Center filled with boos when announcer Bruce Buffer read the decision.

It was a stark contrast to the way fans reacted in May when Machida claimed the light heavyweight championship with a knockout win over Rashad Evans.

“Every time you go in there you want to try and make fans happy,” Machida said. “It’s a little depressing when guys don’t cheer for you, they boo you. The only thing I can promise is I will train harder and guarantee I will put on a better performance next time.”

It sounds like the two fighters will be given an immediate opportunity to fix the mistakes they may have made Saturday night.

The sound from the final horn was still echoing in parts of Staples Center as UFC broadcaster Joe Rogan brought up the possibility of a rematch.

White even went so far as to say he had already approached both fighters on the prospect of facing one another again.

“I think there will be a rematch. I talked to both of them and they both agreed,” White said. “You never want to hear people booing the main event and that’s what I truly believe this would make a good rematch. Each one of them is going to try and win the fight decisively.”

Rua, who was visibly disappointed during the conference, said that he began thinking of a rematch the second Machida’s name was announced instead of his.

“Of course, I’ve been thinking about a rematch since the fight was called,” Rua said. “If that’s Dana’s wish and Lyoto’s wish, I will fight him anywhere, anytime.

“It’s just a matter of people putting that fight together.”

Rua went on to say that since he believed he had won the fight, he would not change strategies in a second fight with Machida, which would probably take place early 2010.

Machida on the other hand, who had never lost a round in his professional career previous to Saturday’s fight, said that his game plan would change.

“Sometimes when you get in there, your strategy doesn’t work exactly like you planned it would,” Machida said. “I’m going to go back home, watch the fight and when we fight again I’ll have a different strategy and a different plan.”

Controversial decisions have always been a part of mixed martial arts, a fact that has prompted White to warn his fighters about leaving bouts in judges’ hands numerous times.

According to White, the UFC is always looking for ways to improve the education of referees and judges, athletic commissions are ultimately in charge of how decisions are determined.

“We’ve hired (former Nevada commissioner) Marc Ratner, the most respected man in the business, to help fix this,” White said. “I don’t know how many times I’ve been on the set of ‘The Ultimate Fighter’ where we get excited about going to another round and, no, it’s over, this guy won both rounds. It happens all the time and we’re working hard to try and make it better.”

For now, the only justification the UFC can offer to a fighter that may have been robbed of a decision is to remake the fight itself.

Although nothing is ever final until papers are signed, it sure sounded like that was the wish of White.

“I know it probably sounds like I’m trying to sell the rematch, but I’m pretty confident that a rematch would be a different fight,” White said. “Nobody wants to sit up here, banged up, beat up, bruised up, and lose or win in the way these guys did tonight. It doesn’t feel good for anybody.”

Brett Okamoto can be reached at 948-7817 or [email protected].

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