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'Shogun' Rua talks about UFC 104 at Staples Center

July 11, 2009 | 11:06 am

The three toughest Ultimate Fighting Championship athletes to beat in my own rankings are Anderson Silva, Georges St-Pierre and Lyoto Machida.

We'll find out how Thiago Alves fares tonight at UFC 100 against St-Pierre, and Forrest Griffin is moving down in weight to take on Silva later this year.

Light-heavyweight champion Machida (15-0) will make his first title defense Oct. 24 at Staples Center against fellow Brazilian Mauricio "Shogun" Rua. I spoke to Rua through an interpreter Friday.

"I expect to be able to surprise him," Rua said. "I know he's great, and I don't see many differences between us as good strikers, wrestlers and jujitsu guys, but I'm more aggressive and have proved I fight more often for the finish than he does."

The Staples appearance is the first time UFC has committed to a California event since 2007, when its lightweight champion and challenger both tested positive for steroids after a Sacramento show.

The long absence got people talking that the organization of tough guys was dodging California's drug scrutiny. UFC executives Dana White and Marc Ratner insist to me that the layoff was a result of expansion into other states and in Europe.

-- Lance Pugmire