On July 30, Ultimate Fighting Championship President Dana White boggled the minds of MMA fans when he said that the winner of Mauricio "Shogun" Rua vs. Brandon "The Truth" Vera at UFC on Fox 4 this Saturday would be the next No. 1 contender for the UFC light heavyweight title. Really? The next challenger for the title could be a man who is 2-3 in his last five fights, including losses to Jon Jones and Dan Henderson. Or, the next challenger could be a man who unfortunately never lived up to the hype and has gone just 1-2-1NC in his previous four fights.
Rightfully so, the MMA world was angry at the news and took to social media to voice their displeasure. Being the man of the people, White changed his mind and announced that whoever wins most impressively at the event this weekend in the main event, or co-main event featuring Ryan Bader and Lyoto Machida would get the next shot. While this is a better all-around option when it comes to actually shelling out money for the pay-per-view card that will house the eventual fight, it's still not a promising move for the fans.
Realistically, the Vera vs. Rua match could end with an early knockout or submission, but he most logical ending I see the fight playing out is a boring 15-minute fight. The only way one of those two men will get the title shot is if Bader and Machida put the crowd at the Staples Center to sleep. I don't see that happening, but how much of a quality fight would we actually get with Bader or Machida getting the title shot? The answer of that question depends on who wins the title fight between Jones and Henderson.
At this point in his career, Jones has already beaten all serious challengers in the division, including Bader and Machida. Not only did he beat them, he made them look bad. Putting either of them in the cage again would likely lead to the same result, but what if Henderson could pull off the upset? A Henderson vs. Bader fight would be an interesting one considering each of their high-level wrestling skills. Throw Machida in a title fight with Henderson, and we could see a fight of the year candidate.
Unless fans are looking forward to a snooze in the next title fight after Jones vs. Henderson, we all better hope that Henderson gets the win. If not, we could be stuck watching Jones nearly kill Machida again with a choke, or even worse, watching Vera in a title fight. Even Keith Jardine would be laughing then.
For a look at the best fights for some of the most popular fighters in the UFC and 2011 division recaps, go here.
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Hobson Lopes has been a fan of mixed martial arts since the days of Tank Abbott and can be followed on Twitter @HobsonLopes.
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- Dan Henderson
- Lyoto Machida
- Jon Jones
- Ryan Bader