UFC president Dana white has raised the stakes for next weekend’s ‘UFC On FOX 4’ event by revealing that the winners of the night’s two biggest fights will have the chance to earn themselves a title shot at 205lbs.
“These fighters have a huge opportunity to show the world why they deserve to fight for the UFC title next,” White explained to FOXSports. “Winning isn’t enough at UFC on FOX. This division is so competitive these fighters have to look great to separate themselves from the pack.
“I’m expecting all of these guys to go all-out to prove why they should be next in line for a title shot.”
Firstly, here’s a reminder of the two fights in question:
- Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua Vs Brandon Vera
- Lyoto Machida Vs Ryan Bader
It’s worth stressing that Vera isn’t in the title mix at the moment so he’s not under consideration here. However White has indicated that his opponent ‘Shogun’ is currently in pole position for another shot at the belt, but if he loses or doesn’t perform impressively then the winner of Machida Vs Bader could overtake him and fight the winner of Jon Jones Vs Dan Henderson instead.
While this statement from White was clearly aiming to drum up interest in the fights what it’s done more than anything else is highlight just how few real challengers are left for current champion Jones in the division (assuming he defeats Henderson as many are predicting him to do).
Firstly, it’s interesting to note that Jones has in fact defeated all three of these fighters in convincing fashion during the last couple of years or so.
The fact that ‘Shogun’ is even being considered is surprising given that he was handed a one-sided beatdown against Jones and his only other fight since then was a decision loss to Henderson.
He’s also about to face Vera 1-2-1 record of late ensures that in no way should he be considered the caliber of opponent that someone like ‘Shogun’ should be beating to earn another chance to fight for the belt.
In all fairness, neither is Machida. His fight against Bader will be his first since he was choked unconscious by Jones at UFC 140 in December. Up until that point ‘The Dragon’ was offering more of a challenge to the champ than many other of his previous opponents, so perhaps there is a possibility for a rematch their, though it feels too soon at this point unless he does something special on FOX.
That leaves Bader who’s at least got a couple of wins under his belt against Jason Brilz and Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson, but nobody’s been crying out for him to fight for the championship, and it’s hard to forget that Jones handled him with ease when they fought at UFc 126 in February of last year.
So as you can see there’s no perfect solution here, unless Henderson pulls off the upset and defeats Jones in which case all bets are off and any of the aforementioned fighters would make sense.
Personally I think ‘Shogun’ has compounded this problem by his initial refusal to fight Glover Teixeira who’s a new potential star in the division. Ideally Jones needs fresh talent to face, and if Teixeira could have beaten ‘Shogun’ on FOX then that would have set him up as an exciting new No.1 contender.
Having said that, I also think the UFC made a mistake by then overlooking Swedish sensation Alexander Gustafsson who’s on a five-fight winning streak in the promotion and coming off a very comfortable win over Thiago Silva back in April.
He’s earned the chance to fight someone of ‘Shogun’s’ caliber and that fight could have firmly established him as the top contender for Jones.
Instead they’ve opted for Vera which gives ‘Shogun’ a very good chance to look good and claim that No.1 contender spot.