Believe it or not, Brandon Vera will earn a shot at Jon Jones light-heavyweight title if he defeats Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua at ‘UFC On FOX 4’ this coming weekend.
That was the big news coming from UFC president Dana White during a ‘UFC On FOX 4’ media conference call earlier today.
Last week White had seemed to indicate that ‘Shogun’ along with co-main event fighters Lyoto Machida and Ryan Bader were in the picture for the No.1 contender spot, but it seems that unless the main event is a flop then Machida and Bader will have to wait their turn for a title shot.
It seems a very strange decision from the UFC given that Vera is just 1-2 (1nc) in the past few years, hardly the form of a title challenger. Moreover, Vera was actually released from the UFC after a loss to Thiago Silva in January of last year, but earned himself a stay of execution after Silva tested positive for steroids.
Since then Vera’s picked up a fairly unremarkable win over Eliot Marshall so he must feel like all his Christmas’s have come at once now that he’s suddenly main eventing a FOX show and within touching distance of his first ever title shot.
In my opinion this is a real blunder from the UFC, as it appears that they are just completely abandoning any real sense of competition and structure in order to try to raise the stakes, and if all goes according to plan the TV ratings, for Saturday night’s show on FOX.
In part they are the victims of Jon Jones success though. He has in fact already convincingly beaten all three fighters that share the spotlight with him on Saturday night so there’s no ideal scenario here.
However, to my mind it would have made more sense to shuffle the deck here and put either Machida or Bader up against ‘Shogun’ in the main event in order to ensure a credible contender for the title at the end of the night.
Instead they appear to be gambling on the fact that ‘Shogun’ will beat Vera, and while that does look the most likely result on paper, they more than anyone should know it doesn’t always work out that way.