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Males of many animal species show intraspecific disputes for mating territories that range from displays without physical contact to physical fights with risk of injury. This variation motivated the proposition of different models that suggest possible rules used by rivals to decide the contest winner. To evaluate those models, it is necessary to identify how males behave during the fight and the individual attributes that determine their fighting ability (resource holding potential). For this, males of the dragonfly Macrothemis imitans (Karsch) (Odonata: Libellulidae) were used to evaluate two hypotheses conditioned on the occurrence of physical contact during the fight: if the contests occur with physical contact, features related to size should determine male resource holding potential, and if males do not exhibit physical contact during the contests, features that confer greater endurance should determine resource holding potential. To assess these hypotheses, we collected males that had ownership of territories (resident males) and males that occupied the territory after we removed the resident males (substitute males). After the capture, the resident and substitute males were transferred to the laboratory for measurements of wing area, dry weight, thoracic muscle mass, and fat content. The results showed that resident males do not differ in any measured trait from substitutes. Because the fights occur with physical contact, it is intriguing that resident males do not possess higher fighting capacity than intruders. Perhaps physical contact does not incur high costs during the fight, and other asymmetries, such as motivation associated with prior residency of the disputed territory, determine the contest winner.