It's still almost a month away, but I figure it's never too soon to get geared up for a UFC that features Lyoto "The Dragon" Machida (15-0) in the main event.
If you're wondering why Mauricio "Shogun" Rua (18-3) is getting a title shot after going just 2-1 in the octagon, there are actually a couple of good reasons.
First, because the UFC's next best option was probably Rich Franklin (25-5), or Jon Jones (9-0), or...uh...well, there just wasn't anybody else who didn't already have a fight scheduled.
Oh yeah, and it's also because "Shogun" is a certified bad-ass who was once ranked #1 in the world at light-heavyweight. He holds quality wins over Chuck Liddell (21-7), Quinton Jackson (30-7), Antonio "Little Nog" Nogueira (17-3), and Ricardo Arona (14-5), among others.
Rua even went 13-1 against a murderer's row of opponents in Pride FC. His only defeat in that span was due to a fluke arm injury that he sustained against Mark Coleman-- Shogun later avenged that loss at UFC 93. If the best "Shogun" we've seen yet steps into the octagon on October 24th, his striking should be dynamic enough to at least make things interesting.
Having said that, I, like most, fully expect "The Dragon" to officially usher in what Joe Rogan called "The Machida Era" by retaining his belt at UFC 104. Interestingly, no UFC light-heavyweight has successfully defended the title since Quinton Jackson beat Dan Henderson (25-7) by unanimous decision at UFC 75-- over two years ago!
The rest of the card is pretty solid, but I'll have more on those match-ups as we get closer to fight night:
Champ Lyoto Machida vs. Mauricio "Shogun" Rua
Ben Rothwell vs. Cain Velasquez
Josh Neer vs. Gleison Tibau
Spencer Fisher vs. Joe Stevenson
Anthony Johnson vs. Yoshiyuki Yoshida
Yushin Okami vs. Chael Sonnen
Patrick Barry vs. Antoni Hardonk
Rob Kimmons vs. Jorge Rivera
Ryan Bader vs. Eric Schafer
Razak Al-Hassan vs. Kyle Kingsbury
Chase Gormley vs. Stefan Struve