It’s been more than two years, but the Ultimate Fighting Championship® (UFC®) is finally bringing world-class mixed martial arts back to California, and when the lights go down for the main event of UFC 104 on Saturday, October 24th, fans will witness a battle between two of the most dynamic fighters ever to set foot in the world-famous Octagon™, as Brazil’s Lyoto “The Dragon” Machida defends his UFC light heavyweight title for the first time against his countryman and fellow superstar Mauricio “Shogun” Rua. Also waging war at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles on the UFC 104: Machida vs Shogun card, which is presented by TapouT, will be a clash between two of the heavyweight division’s top rising stars, unbeaten Cain Velasquez and UFC newcomer “Big” Ben Rothwell.
“It’s been two years since the UFC was in Southern California and we knew we had to bring something special for our return to the capital of mixed martial arts,” said UFC President Dana White. “Lyoto Machida captured the imagination of fight fans with his knockout of Rashad Evans, and while he seems unbeatable right now, Mauricio “Shogun” Rua not only has the tools to beat any 205-pounder in the world, but he’s coming off a knockout of Chuck Liddell in his last fight, so his confidence is sky-high. This has the potential to be one of the greatest light heavyweight title fights ever.”
A man that remains a mystery to every opponent he’s faced in his mixed martial arts career is Lyoto “The Dragon” Machida (fighting out of Belem, Brazil). With a perfect 15-0 record and three finishes in his last three fights, the 31-year-old Brazilian has dominated the UFC light heavyweight division. His highlight-reel second-round knockout of undefeated Rashad Evans not only captured the UFC light heavyweight belt, but established Machida as an international superstar. With an unorthodox style and a Machida Karate black belt, Machida remains one of the hardest targets to hit in the Octagon™. The lifelong martial artist also holds a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu and is dangerous anywhere the fight goes.
“I’m honored to be making my first title defense in Los Angeles,” Machida said. “The fact that I get to fight someone as respected as Shogun is an honor as well. My last fight before I won the title was against Thiago Silva, so I know how tough my fellow Brazilians are. I’m training extremely hard for this matchup and I’m looking forward to a great fight.”
A fighter that has faced the best in the world throughout his career, Mauricio “Shogun” Rua (fighting out of Curitiba, Brazil) has now made a name for himself in the UFC. With a “Fight of the Night” TKO victory over UFC Hall of Famer Mark Coleman at UFC 93 and a devastating first-round TKO over another Hall of Famer, Chuck “The Iceman” Liddell, Rua has positioned himself as the No. 1 contender for the UFC light heavyweight title. At only 27 years old, “Shogun” has already compiled an 18-3 professional record, including wins over former UFC light heavyweight champion Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, Kevin Randleman and Ricardo Arona.
“I feel very happy about fighting for the UFC belt,” Rua said. “It’s a huge opportunity in my career and in my life, and having this chance gets me closer to reaching my career’s ultimate goal and my life’s biggest dream. I think fighting Lyoto is a great thing because he is the man to beat right now. He’s wearing the belt and he has a very well-rounded game.”
A former two-time NCAA Division I All-American wrestler at Arizona State, Cain Velasquez (fighting out of San Jose, California) has parlayed his successful wrestling career into a stellar mixed martial arts campaign. The 27-year-old heavyweight contender is a perfect 6-0 with four UFC wins, three coming via TKO. At UFC 99, Velasquez faced his toughest test yet in proven striker Cheick Kongo and earned a hard-fought unanimous decision victory. Now the Salinas, California native faces his most experienced opponent yet in Ben Rothwell.
“Ben is a great opponent with heavy hands,” Velasquez said. “He is an all-around big fighter that comes out of a great camp. I look forward to putting on an exciting fight for the fans at UFC 104.”
At 6-foot-5, 265 lbs., Rothwell can definitely create a stir in the UFC’s ultra-stacked heavyweight division.
“I’ve been in this fight game for 10 years and I can’t tell you how excited I am to finally be competing in the UFC,” Rothwell said. “It’s the reason I started fighting in the first place. I’m very grateful that they would give me such an established opponent in my first match. Cain’s a tough guy and I’m looking forward to putting on a great show.”Watch the fights live online!