The Weekly Wrap walks readers through the last seven days in
MMA, recapping and putting into context the week’s top story,
important news and notable quotes.
Yet again in 2009, the judges’ call in a five-round main event led
to some hot-tempered backlash. Outrage aside, Mauricio "Shogun"
Rua’s performance against light heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida
104 on Oct.24 proved revelatory.
Rua, despite losing the decision to Machida 48-47 on three
scorecards, essentially laid out the game plan of how to outpoint
the champion, who heretofore seemed almost impossible to hit, let
alone beat. Rua used crisp muay Thai technique to catch the
zig-zagging Machida with leg and body kicks. Rua ate his share of
counter punches, as both men fired off combinations simultaneously,
but he landed nearly twice the strikes Machida did, according to
CompuStrike. Rua became the first fighter to take a round over
Machida in the UFC. The performance moved Shogun from No. 4 to No.
2 in Sherdog.com’s 205-pound rankings.
UFC President Dana White said he thought Rua won in a post-fight
press conference and immediately went to work making what should be
a more-anticipated rematch. White has targeted UFC 108 on Jan. 2
for the return match, according to the Wrestling Observer.
Judges Cecil Peoples and Marcos Rosales gave rounds one, two and
three to Machida, and rounds four and five to Rua. Judge Nelson
Hamilton gave Machida rounds two, three and four and Rua rounds one
and five. Three Sherdog.com judges scored the bout for Rua, two by
a 48-47 count and one by a 50-45 score. The live crowd sided with
Rua, as well, shifting from “Machida” chants at the outset to
“Shogun” chants by the close. Rua said his corner told him he was
winning the fight as it entered the championship rounds.
Fans and fighters alike took to Twitter and blogs to decry the
decision. One prominent voice who weighed in was Quinton
Jackson, who said the score was so bad that it made him think
shady business was afoot. One thing not in dispute at UFC 104 was
how impressive undefeated heavyweight Cain
Velasquez looked in dismantling rugged veteran Ben
Despite a 40- to 50- pound weight disadvantage, Velasquez hit
emphatic takedowns consistently, battering Rothwell with all manner
of ground-and-pound and dirty boxing. While Rothwell was almost
entirely on the defensive in round two, there was some discontent
with referee Steve Mazzagatti’s stoppage. Rothwell was scaling the
fence and trying to get to his feet when the fight-ending blows
landed. The win vaulted Velasquez into Sherdog.com’s top 10
rankings at heavyweight. His No. 9 slot ranks him one ahead of the
next fighter set to challenge for the UFC heavyweight title --
UFC 104, the promotion’s first event in California in two years,
went down before a crowd of 14,982 at the Staples Center in Los
Angeles. The show drew $1.9 million at the gate, down from the $2.9
million take for the only other UFC card at the Staples Center --
UFC 60 in 2006, headlined by Matt Hughes vs.
Gracie. The UFC had trouble with advance ticket sales and
looked to dole out more complimentary tickets to fill the building
than for any other event this year.
The company could still afford a significant payroll of $922,000.
Machida was top earner with $200,000 in disclosed pay, followed by
Rua at $155,000. Heavyweight Patrick
Barry also managed to top the six-figure mark, collecting not
only a win bonus for his knockout of Antoni
Hardonk but also two $60,000 bonuses for “Knockout of the
Night” and “Fight of the Night.” His total haul was $134,000. Barry
suffered a left wrist injury that required surgery and could shelve
him for two months, MMAJunkie.com reported.
Tibau came in two pounds heavy but worked diligent takedowns to
Neer -- who also slightly missed weight -- and picked up a
unanimous decision. Johnson came in at 176 pounds against Yoshiyuki
Yoshida but still notched a hard first-round knockout, loading
up on a right straight to put away the Japanese fighter. Johnson
cited a knee injury that caused him to balloon to a high of 220
pounds before the fight and indicated he would consider moving up
in weight in the future.
The weight issue not only cost Johnson 20 percent of his purse,
which he forfeited to Yoshida, but also a $60,000 bonus for
“Knockout of the Night.” White said Johnson would have received the
bonus had he made weight. Johnson was rewarded in one way for the
win, however. He was matched against divisional force Josh Koscheck
in the co-main event slot at UFC 106 on Nov. 21.
In the other main card bout, Joe Stevenson
picked up his third straight impressive win, dropping rabid short
elbows for the second-round submission of Spencer
Fisher. Elsewhere, Chael Sonnen
knocked Yushin Okami
off his perch near the top of the middleweight ranks, hitting
takedowns and controlling the Japanese standout for the
For the second consecutive pay-per-view, the UFC aired a live
one-hour preview special on Spike TV. Barry’s dramatic win over
Hardonk and Ryan Bader’s
unanimous decision over Eric Schafer
were aired, along with Stefan
Struve’s triangle choke win over Chase
Gormley. It earned Struve a $60,000 “Submission of the Night”
The Spike broadcast drew an average of 1.4 million viewers,
identical to the audience that watched the pre-UFC 103 special in
September. The preview did not appear to lead to a boost in buys
last time out, as UFC 103 notched a rather low 375,000 buys.