UFC on FOX 4 is making things interesting for the light heavyweight division. Today UFC President Dana White confirmed on the media call for the 4th FOX event, that the winner of the main event between Mauricio “Shogun” Rua and Brandon “The Truth” Vera would get the next title shot. Of course, whoever wins will have to wait for the outcome of UFC 151’s main event between Jon Jones and Dan Henderson to know who they’ll challenge for the title.
Dana White explained to the media why Shogun would be deserving of another shot at the UFC Light Heavyweight belt. “Shogun Rua just came off the fight of the year last year. And he’s probably one of the greatest fighters in the last decade – think about it,” Dana said. “If you think of the list of every guy he knocked out Rampage, knocked out Chuck Liddell, knocked out Mark Coleman, knocked out Lyoto Machida, knocked out Forrest Griffin, knocked out Alistair Overeem twice. He submitted Kevin Randleman. He’s probably the number two fighter in the world.”
Some have argued that Vera isn’t deserving of a title shot given his recent streak. His last five fights, he’s gone 2-2, with one no contest to Thiago Silva. Silva vs Vera at UFC 125 was initially ruled a unanimous decision win for Silva, until Silva tested positive for banned substances and the NSAC overturned the fight result to a no-contest. Dana stated that Vera has been given a shot a redemption.
“It’s all about opportunities,” White said. “Brandon Vera is a guy who burst onto the scene, was gonna be a 205 champion, a heavyweight champion was running through guys left and right and then I don’t know what happened, but it’s about opportunities. He accepted this opportunity to fight one of the greatest fighters of this decade and we’ll see what he does with it.”
Vera added that he’s not taking this golden ticket he’s been given for granted. “”This opportunity makes all the good, all the bad, all the ugly that’s happened so far in my career, throughout life, ok. This opportunity right here, this thing that’s been given to me…it makes everything ok. I’m taking full advantage of it man. I’ve never felt this good in my life man. I’ve never been so confident, so sure, in my life.”
Dana reiterated that the winner of Rua-Vera, and not Machida-Bader will get the next title shot. However, he indicated there’s a very slim possibility that Machida-Bader get a shot if they can impress more than Rua or Vera.
Some have argued that there’s no sense in any of these four getting a rematch at Jones, should Jones beat Henderson, being that Jones has already beat them all. As for the next possible contender at light heavyweight, Dana said he hasn’t ruled out the possibility of the next contender being Phil Davis or Alexander Gustafsson pending the outcome of their next fights.
Davis’ only career loss was to Rashad Evans in January and Gustafsson has gone on a 5-fight win streak. White added that a loss for Phil Davis who faces Wagner Prado this weekend would keep him out of the contenders circle. Gustafsson was supposed to fight on the UFC on FUEL 2 card, but pulled out against Antônio Rogério Nogueira due to injury.
If Jones should win and Vera is next to get the title shot against him, Vera promised that this time around he wouldn’t underestimate Jones like he did in their first fight. “The very first time I fought Jon Jones, I thought he was just some young punk. I didn’t respect him at all. “He will have my full undivided attention.” Rua answered on the possibility of rematching Jones that right now, he’s only concerned with Brandon Vera.
For the future of FOX cards, Dana White gave a preview of what we can expect to see on upcoming FOX cards. His idea is that all FOX cards will feature top division contenders. “Guys who fight on FOX are guys who are in line for world title shots and the top ranked guys.”
Also, for the first time since the UFC signed on with FOX, fans got to see a one hour fight preview titled “Road to the Octagon” that gave fans an inside look at the fighters in the main and co-main event. White said that we can expect to see more previews like this in the near future for FOX fights. “It took about 6-7 months of a feeling out period of how to work together and how to get things clicking for the UFC on FOX. And we’ve come up with a lot of great ideas that we’re going to be implementing over the next year.”