Mauricio "Shogun" Rua got jobbed.
He thought he did enough to beat Ultimate Fighting Championship light-heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida last year at Staples Center, but the judges stunningly awarded a unanimous decision to Machida, three rounds to two.
UFC President Dana White was so certain that Rua had won the fight, he announced to everyone at the post-fight news conference that an immediate rematch was ordered.
"I don't understand what the judges saw or how they scored it," said Rua, who has watched the replay four times in recent weeks. "I most certainly won. I pursued the fight, walked forward the whole time while he kept walking backward. I connected on more punches. That should count."
So Rua won the bout in the public's opinion. Now, to take the title, he has to do it again, before a new batch of judges.
Saturday night at Bell Centre in Montreal, Rua (18-4) gets his rematch with Machida (16-0) on a UFC 113 pay-per-view card that also includes a welterweight battle of title contenders pitting Josh Koscheck vs. Paul Daley, and a heavyweight fight between the popular Kimbo Slice and his former "The Ultimate Fighter" cast member Matt Mitrione.
"I have to go through it all again with this guy in a new fight, which is tough," Rua said. "My motivation is just this chance that I have — my second chance — to realize my dream of being a UFC champion."
Rua no doubt will have to incorporate more activity into the 2009 fight plan, which included a slew of kicks and posturing that discouraged his fellow Brazilian Machida from attacking. Machida, grilled for being largely inactive in that match, has predicted "a better fight this time around."
Rua said he believes his advantage is that he's the most skilled, rounded fighter Machida has ever confronted. Machida may have an answer for Rua's abusive leg kicks. But "it's tough to say where this fight will go. I can't even tell you what I'm going to do," Rua said.
"I'm training for all situations so I can get no surprises when the fight starts," said Rua, the former PRIDE Fighting Championships Grand Prix champion said. "I have to also think of different game plans and different approaches to the fight in case Lyoto comes up with something different."
Rua credits a return to full health and adding a UFC octagon to his training gym for his return to championship form and improvement from a UFC debut loss to Forrest Griffin. He has since dominated former UFC champs Mark Coleman and Chuck Liddell, and scored rounds against Machida, who had never previously lost one.
Providing extra incentive, he enjoyed the January birth of his daughter, Maria.
"I have something more to fight for, she's my little princess," Rua said. "I can't wait for this fight."