Mauricio Rua does not view light heavyweight champion Jon Jones as an inexorable force, even after their encounter at UFC 128 ended in his one-sided defeat.
In fact, Shogun has already pegged the man to dethrone Jones: Lyoto Machida.
“He has every chance to beat Jones,” Rua told Sherdog.com. “His counterattack style is very strong and tough to beat. I think his style could match perfectly with Jones” style. I'd bet on him if I had to.”
Machida -- who surrendered the light heavyweight crown to Rua in a first-round knockout at UFC 113 -- has plenty of work to do before being considered for a title shot. The 32-year-old Brazilian will carry a two-fight losing streak into his featured matchup with hall of famer Randy Couture at UFC 129 “St. Pierre vs. Shields” on April 30 at the Rogers Centre in Toronto.
Rua favors Machida in that fight, as well.
“Lyoto's going to win,” he said. “He's very fast and agile for the division, and Couture is not at his best. It”s very difficult to force a ground fight with Lyoto. He has a strong base and balance. If Couture puts him down, he has a chance to win. He”s always dangerous, but he can only win if he can get the fight on the ground.”
On the rebound following his defeat to Jones, Rua will lock horns with Forrest Griffin in a long-awaited rematch at UFC 134 --Rio in August. Some have pointed to a potential matchup between Couture and Rua, should they both prevail in their respective bouts.
“I'm 100 percent focused on Griffin,” Rua said. “If I win that fight, and if Couture defeats Lyoto, let's see what happens. I would accept that fight, for sure.”
Colin Foster contributed to this report