The End of the Machida Era: Revisiting UFC 104

Photo by Scott Peterson via MMA Weekly

With Lyoto Machida returning to action this Saturday at UFC 123 against Quinton Jackson, aka Rampage, it seems like an opportune moment to revisit his fall from grace at UFC 104.

After Lyoto Machida crushed Rashad Evans at UFC 98, Joe Rogan famously declared that we had entered "the Machida era." Alas, as eras go, it was a short one. Machida faced Mauricio Rua, aka Shogun, at UFC 104 and it soon became clear that Shogun and his camp had solved the notoriously difficult puzzle presented by Machida's unique application of Shotokan karate to MMA.

Shogun moved forward relentlessly behind a tight high guard, collapsing the pocket but refusing to make the first strike -- thus depriving Machida of the counter-striking opportunities he thrives on. This forced Machida to lunge in and out looking to score with punches to the head. Everytime Machida lunged in, Shogun answered with a kick to the legs or body. Over time this wore the champ down and it was clear by the championship rounds that Rua's strategy had worked.

Clear to everyone but the judges. Here's Dave Meltzer talking about the fight:

Rua appeared to win the fight convincingly enough that on media row, reporters had already started writing stories about the upset of the previously unbeaten Machida.

But when the judges came back with the scores, it was 48-47 across the board, all three ruling that Machida had retained the title. The crowd was largely shocked. When it was over, 20 of 21 reporters polled at the fight believed that Rua had won, and a Wrestling Observer website poll on the decision had 80 percent for Rua and only 11 percent for Machida. With the possible exception of a Bas Rutten-Kevin Randleman heavyweight title fight in 1999, it was the most universally decried championship decision in UFC history.
One of the three judges of the fight, Nelson "Doc" Hamilton, who has campaigned for judging reform, used this fight as an example. He noted because of his cageside angle on the action and the lack of a television monitor, there were fourth-round blows by Rua that he couldn't see that could have changed the outcome of the fight on his card.

In the full entry we'll hear from Fight Metric and CompuStrike.

After Shogun finished Machida quickly in their UFC 113 rematch it seemed most forgot the first fight, or just chalked the series down to 2-0 in favor of Rua, but it's worth taking a second look at one of the worst judging decisions in MMA history.


Fight Metric agreed, scoring the fight for Rua 134-100 in their system and 49-47 on the ten point must system:


Compu Strike saw it like everyone else, except for the judges. 


Something is clearly rotten in Denmark, if I may allude to Shakespeare on an MMA blog, when a fight this one-sided results in a unanimous decision victory for the guy who clearly lost the fight. 

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