Lyoto Machida retained his light heavyweight title with a narrow unanimous decision over Mauricio "Shogun" Rua at UFC 104 on Saturday night.
Machida (16-0) lost a round for the first time in his UFC career during a tight, technical fight with Rua (18-4), but all three judges rewarded the champion with 48-47 advantages on their scorecards.
Machida hung on with an injured leg and a bloody mouth in front of a Staples Center crowd that gradually switched its support from Machida to the underdog challenger, a fellow Brazilian. The fans loudly booed the final decision.
"My corner told me that I was winning all the rounds," Rua said through an interpreter. "I feel like I won this fight, but a fight is a fight. What can I do?"
Although Rua didn't win, he might have created a plan for future opponents against Machida, whose confounding karate-based style has baffled everyone to date.
Rua concentrated on kicks to Machida's body and legs, attempting to negate the champion's peerless footwork and positioning, and it largely worked. Rua also rarely attempted to take down Machida, instead content to pick away at his defenses while staying away from Machida's counterpunching strengths.
"Whenever he wants, I'll try again," Machida said about the prospect of a rematch. "No problem."
Cain Velasquez also stopped Ben Rothwell 58 seconds into the second round of their heavyweight bout, pinning Rothwell against the cage and landing numerous left hands. Velasquez (7-0) is one step closer to a title shot against Brock Lesnar.
The crowd booed the stoppage, but Rothwell appeared to be nearly defenseless against Velasquez's strikes. Velasquez used his skills from his college wrestling career at Arizona State to get Rothwell on the ground before finishing off the well-traveled mixed martial artist making his UFC debut.
The loss was just the second in 16 fights for Rothwell, who protested the stoppage, insisting he could have taken more punishment.
Velasquez likely won't get his shot at Lesnar for at least six months, with Lesnar scheduled to take on Shane Carwin next month in Las Vegas.