Since the UFC signed the network TV deal with Fox, it seemed the promotion had yet to find that ethereal set of fights that would deliver an unforgettable night for fans of the sport. UFC on Fox 4 was that bill. Last night’s Fox endeavor delivered non-stop action from the moment the fights began.
Ahead of the event, UFC President Dana White announced that the light heavyweight who looked most impressive in their bout would take the number one contender’s seat to challenge the winner of the forthcoming Jon Jones vs Dan Henderson fight for the UFC Light Heavyweight Championship. It would seem Lyoto Machida did enough in his knockout victory over Ryan Bader to leave the Staple Center in Los Angeles, California with a future title shot.
It’s time to look at what the future may hold for the headlining fighters on the night’s bill.
Mauricio “Shogun” Rua: While “Shogun” was able to score a knockout victory over Brandon Vera, the former champion’s performance was far from sterling. Rua was exhausted by the second round. Arguably dropping the second stanza to Vera, who was supposed to be blown out of the water in no time does not bode well for the Brazilian.
What should be next for Rua is what many feel should have been last night’s main event, a rubber match with Lyoto Machida. That obviously will not happen as Machida now sits comfortably and waits for his title shot. With Rampage on his way out of the UFC, Griffin recently going out at the hands of Rua, most fighters with name value are unavailable for Shogun’s next fight.
Perhaps a bout with the rising Alexander Gustafsson is the answer. White recently stated that “The Mauler” is poised for a big fight his next time out, and “Shogun” would be the perfect opponent. Glover Teixeira could possibly face Rua if he defeats Jackson in October, perhaps his countryman will have earned the right to face Rua with a win over a former champion.
With a name like Rua’s, who is one of the greatest light heavyweights to date,the fact remains that he wants to face only established fighters. It’s most likely that he will meet with the loser of Jones-Henderson in a rematch. Former champion Rashad Evans is another name who Rua could find himself squaring off with, the two were slated to meet last year when an injury to Evans opened the door for Jon Jones to walk in and take the title from the Brazilian.
Viable Options: Rashad Evans or the loser of Jon Jones vs Dan Henderson
Brandon Vera: Make no mistake, even in a loss, last night was arguably Brand Vera’s best performance to date. “The Truth” faced one of best opponents to and made it a fight, displaying a level of heart that he is often criticized for lacking. There is one man the Filipino has had his eyes set on for some time now, and that is Thiago Silva. The Brazilian’s in-fight antics and subsequent failed post-fight drug test never sat well with Vera, who has dragged Silva’s name through the mud since. With both men coming off of losses, let them have their rematch, the time is now.
Ideally: Thiago Silva
Lyoto Machida: Despite my feeling that a rubber match with “Shogun,” possibly on a season of TUF: Brazil would be the best option for “The Dragon,” his elusive style coupled with a crushing right hand have won him a UFC Light Heavyweight title shot.
Next up: Winner of Jon Jones vs. Dan Henderson
Ryan Bader: Last night, the Ultimate Fighter winner fell to the unique style of Lyoto Machida, snapping a two-fight streak. “Darth’s” position in the light heavyweight decision remains unclear. The Arizona State wrestler seems best suited as a gatekeeper for the time being. There is a chance of Bader being matched with Vera, as the UFC often loves to match the losers from the same card, but Bader should be fighting prospects that need to be proven. Perhaps a match-up with someone of Bader’s caliber with is exactly what the aforementioned Alexander Gustafsson needs.
Ideally: Alexander Gustafsson