Published Monday, Aug. 24, 2009 | 9 p.m.
Updated Monday, Aug. 24, 2009 | 9:19 p.m.
It’s been more than two years since the world’s premiere mixed martial arts promotion has put on a show in the most populated state in the union, but on Saturday, Oct. 24, Californians will stuff the Staples Center in Los Angeles to watch UFC 104 and it’s main event of Lyoto Machida vs. Mauricio “Shogun” Rua.
“We knew we had to bring something special for our return to the capital of mixed martial arts,” UFC President Dana White said. “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.”
The card — which initially featured a heavyweight contender match of Shane Carwin facing Cain Velasquez (last week White announced Carwin would fight Lesnar at UFC 106 for the title, and the undefeated Velasquez will square off against former Affliction fighter Ben Rothwell) — is the UFC’s first trip to California since "UFC 76: Knockout" in September 2007 and first stop in L.A. since “UFC 60: Hughes vs. Gracie” in May 2006.
Tickets for UFC 104 ($50-to-$600) go on sale Saturday at 10 a.m. Vegas time and are available online at ticketmaster.com or charge-by-phone lines at (800) 745-3000, and are available at the Staples Center box office. UFC Fight Club members have the opportunity to purchase tickets Thursday at 10 a.m. Vegas time and a special Internet pre-sale will be available to UFC newsletter subscribers Friday at UFC.com.
The 31-year-old Machida, who sports a perfect 15-0 record, has dominated the light heavyweight division since entering the UFC in February 2007.
The Brazilian’s highlight-reel knockout of fellow undefeated Rashad Evans in May not only gave Machida the 205-pound crown, but established “The Dragon” and his unorthodoxed karate style of fighting to legions of MMA fans around the world.
“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.”
Much like Machida, fellow countryman Rua has established himself as one of the top light heavyweights in the world, and earned No. 1 contender status with back-to-back victories over UFC Hall of Famers Mark Coleman at UFC 93 and Chuck Liddell at UFC 97.
“I feel very happy about fighting for the UFC belt,” said the 27-year-old Rua. “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.”