The classy and the classless were busy selling UFC 113 on Tuesday. Light heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida, challenger Mauricio Rua and welterweights Josh Koscheck and Paul Daley shared a conference call Tuesday in anticipation of the May 8 event in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
In the headliner, Machida and Rua will rematch their classically inconclusive fight from UFC 104 last October. Machida won by unanimous decision, a scorecard that was met with derision by fans in attendance.
Machida and Rua referred to each other with great respect Tuesday, characteristically refusing to engage in any trash talk.
“I think Lyoto is a great fighter and a great guy, a very well-rounded guy,” Rua said. “Fans aren’t always happy with the way a fight ends, but it’s not always easy to do whatever you want. Lyoto is a great fighter and I will just do my best.”
By contrast, much of what Daley said about Koscheck was unprintable.
“I can’t help it if he’s got (expletive) eyes and he looks a bit like a Fraggle,” he said. Even at his least inflammatory, Daley said, “Josh Koscheck is quite naïve.”
In addition to their own bouts, the fighters were questioned repeatedly about the value of entertainment in the fight game, references to Anderson Silva’s bizarre antics at UFC 112 and Jose Aldo’s decision to slow down in the fifth round of WEC 48. Also, there was a natural comparison between Aldo-Faber and Machida-Rua I because leg kicks were the primary strikes in each fight.
Here are the condensed thoughts of the marquee fighters at UFC 113.
The light heavyweight champion remains one of the great unsolved mysteries of MMA. Machida (16-0) is rarely hit and rarely in trouble. Other than Tito Ortiz’ fairly ambitious triangle attempt at UFC 84, Machida has only struggled against Rua in the UFC. Ironically, the UFC picked up Machida’s contract as a throw-in when Dana White bought the WFA to gain access to Rampage Jackson.
On the first fight with Rua – “After analyzing the fight and thinking about the fight, I still feel the judges made the right choice. I never underestimated Shogun. I knew he was a tough fighter. I never underestimate anybody. A fight is a fight and you never know what is going to happen until you start fighting.”
On strategy – “Both for myself and for Shogun, being in there with each other for 25 minutes, I’m sure he noticed some things about me and I noticed some things about him. I think that makes it so much greater for the rematch this time around.”
On the entertainment factor – “I believe the main priority of the fighter is to go in there and fight well.”
On Anderson Silva’s antics at UFC 112 – “I find it to be very difficult for me to act like that inside the ring. Anderson has that style. He likes to play around. I have a different style and I don’t think I’ll ever have those situations happen.”
“Shogun” was once considered to be the top light heavyweight in the world. From Oct. 2003 to Aug. 2005, he was 8-0 with seven first-round victories and the Pride middleweight grand prix title. But following a loss to Forrest Griffin at UFC 76, Rua (18-4) was inactive for 15 months. He owns wins over former UFC champions Chuck Liddell, Rampage Jackson and Mark Coleman, Antonio Rogerio Nogueira and current Strikeforce champion Alistair Overeem. He spoke through a translator Tuesday.
On the first fight with Machida – “I think it was a controversial fight. Some people thought I won the fight and some people thought I lost. The proof that it was controversial is that rematch was set up immediately. I gave my all in that fight.”
On strategy – “I trained and prepared for all situations. I love Muay Thai. I love Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Many people think taking the fight to the ground and working the ground with Machida would be a good way to win the fight. But Machida also is very good on the ground. He is also hard to get to the ground.”
On pressure – “I don’t feel any pressure. My goal is to give my best performance. I don’t think about controversy or what happened. It can only hinder an athlete.”
On the judging value of leg kicks – “I saw the fight between Uriah Faber and Aldo and Aldo used a lot of leg kicks, but the fight was different because Lyoto attacked me more than Urijah Faber attacked Aldo. Everyone has their own opinion, but there needs to be a better system of scoring in MMA.”
On the entertainment factor – “I think as a fighter you have to step in the cage and think about winning in the first place. Our job as fighters is not easy. All fighters deserve respect regardless of situation.”
A cast member on the first season of “The Ultimate Fighter,” Koscheck (16-4) is coming off a controversial win over Anthony Johnson at UFC 106. The former NCAA wrestling champion earned “Fight of the Night” and “Submission of the Night” bonuses for his win over Johnson.
On Daley hyping the fight – “I don’t get on the internet. I don’t get on any MMA forums. I don’t read the newspaper. I am focused on Paul Daley on May 8.”
On the entertainment factor – “I would like to see guys go in there and try and finish the fight if they have the opportunity. Your job is to go in there and dominate. If you have the opportunity to finish the guy, you finish the guy.”
On taking the fight – “To be honest with you I figured I’d be fighting (UFC welterweight champion Georges) St-Pierre before this one. The UFC called and said you want to fight Paul Daley and I said absolutely.”
On Tito Ortiz – “I would definitely like to fight Tito Ortiz. I think Tito Ortiz has bigger problems right now than taking a challenge from me. It was disrespectful what he said to (Mark) Coleman after (UFC 109). “
On strategy – “I have a great game plan for this fight. I don’t see this fight going past the second round. This fight can end any way. I can knock his ass out.”
On Aldo-Faber at WEC 48 – “I thought it was a great fight. It showed what a great champion Jose Aldo is. He’s a big 145-pounder. He’s very explosive. I think he will be the champion for quite some time at 145.”
The Nottingham native, nicknamed “Semtex” after a type of plastic explosive similar to C-4, is on a four-fight win streak and is 2-0 in the UFC. Daley (23-8-2) won all four by first-round knockout.
On his striking advantage – “Just look at my track record. If Koscheck wants to trade I’ll do that all day. It will be a short, sweet fight if that is the case. I’m going to knock Koscheck out, that’s it. Plain and simple.”
On taking the fight – “The way it was put to me, Josh called me out and I responded with that in mind. I will fight anybody. It doesn’t matter to me.”
On experience – “While Josh was still in college on a campus somewhere and (absolutely unprintable), I was in Cage Rage. Who’s the newbie here?”
On entertainment – “I think entertaining the crowd is a very important part of it. In order to grow the sport, fights need to be entertaining.”
On Koscheck’s loss to Paulo Thiago at UFC 95 – “(It didn’t show) much apart from Koscheck has a glass jaw. It’s not only that fight he’s been rocked by lesser strikers than me.”
On ground fighting – “I’m quite honest where my strengths lie and my weaknesses were. (UFC president Dana White)’s comments are accurate as such in that we don’t have a great wrestling tradition in the UK, but being in MMA, I’ve been able to train with a lot of great wrestlers. I train continually.”