I'll have live round-by-round coverage and analysis of UFC 104 tonight beginning shortly before 9 p.m. ET.
The top seven bouts will be covered in great detail, and I'll provide quickie results for the other remaining undercard fights (probably before the round-by-round begins, so if you're hoping to avoid spoilers for fights that could air on the broadcast as filler, there's your warning).
The big one, of course, is the main event pitting UFC light heavyweight champion Lyoto "The Dragon" Machida vs. Mauricio "Shogun" Rua.
Machida (15-0-0, 7-0-0 UFC) is not only undefeated, but he's never lost a single round in the UFC. He is among the best when it comes to avoiding damage during a fight. Machida was somewhat unfairly tagged as a boring fighter after his earlier UFC bouts, but I guess that will happen when you're not allowing your opponent the chance to tee off on you. Machida's last two wins (including the title win over Rashad Evans) came via convincing KO, so the "boring" criticism has all but died down.
Shogun (18-3-0, 2-1-0 UFC) got off to a terrible start in the UFC after a very successful run in PRIDE, losing to Forrest Griffin via submission. Since that fight, he's won two in a row, looking progressively better with each victory.
With Rua, it's important to remember that his loss to Griffin was the exception to the rule. Before that, he had won 12 of his last 13 fights in PRIDE. Since the Griffin loss, he's won two straight. Then again, his recent wins were against an aging Mark Coleman and Chuck Liddell. One can safely assume that Machida will be a much more difficult puzzle to solve than either of those opponents for Rua.
Machida is a very difficult guy to damage in a standup duel, but he's no pushover on the ground either. But still, taking the fight to the canvas is probably Shogun's best path to victory. Aside from his karate pedigree, Machida is a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, so just because Rua is skilled on the ground does not mean that Machida is toast if the fight goes there. It certainly makes the fight more winnable for Rua, but that may not be saying much.
The full card for tonight's UFC 104:
- UFC light heavyweight title bout: Lyoto "The Dragon" Machida vs. Mauricio "Shogun" Rua
- Cain Velasquez vs. Ben Rothwell (265)
- Gleison Tibau vs. Josh Neer (157 -- catch)
- Joe Stevenson vs. Spencer Fisher (155)
- Anthony "Rumble" Johnson vs. Yoshiyuki Yoshida (176 -- catch)
- Ryan Bader vs. Eric "The Red" Schafer (205)
- Antoni Hardonk vs. Pat Barry (265)
- Yushin Okami vs. Chael Sonnen (185)
- Jorge Rivera vs. Rob Kimmons (185)
- Kyle Kingsbury vs. Razak Al-Hassan (205)
- Stefan Struve vs. Chase Gormley (265)
Tibau vs. Neer ended up at a catchweight of 157 after both men slightly missed weight. Anthony Johnson came in at 176 for a 170-pound bout (and looked severely drained even at that weight), but Yoshida agreed to fight him at 176 anyhow.
Johnson will be fined 20 percent of his purse for missing weight by such an excessive margin.
See you shortly before 9 p.m. ET for the UFC 104 live blog.