Shogun vs. Vera win gets title shot, Jon Jones baffled
During a UFC on FOX 4 call held today, the light heavyweight title path for several fighters became clearer.
Despite both fighters having already suffered losses to champion Jon Jones – and despite the competitors owning a combined 3-5 record (with one no-contest) in their past nine fights – the winner of Saturday's UFC on FOX 4 headliner, Mauricio "Shogun" Rua vs. Brandon Vera, will get a shot at the belt.
UFC president Dana White today confirmed the plans.
"Yes," White said when asked about the title stakes.
"'Shogun' Rua just came off a 'Fight of the Year' last year," said White referring to the Henderson fight. "He's probably one of the best fighters of the last decade. Think about it. This guy knocked out 'Rampage', knocked out Chuck Liddell, knocked out Mark Coleman, knocked out Lyoto Machida, knocked out Forrest Griffin, knocked out Alistair Overeem twice, submitted Kevin Randleman. A win puts him right back in position, and then he's probably the No. 2 guy in the world."
As for Vera, who hasn't won back-to-back fights in three years, he understands it's icing on the cake.
Meanwhile, mega manager Ed Soares hopes to match Machida and Shogun as head coaches on TUF Brazil, assuming both win at UFC on FOX 4. TUF Brazil starts filming in January of 2013.
"If Lyoto wins and 'Shogun' wins, maybe make them the coaches of the next Brazilian 'TUF,' and have them fight the rubber match," Soares told MMAjunkie.com.
"Lorenzo mentioned that 'Shogun' has mentioned something to him about possibly doing that. I think it's a great idea. I think 'Shogun' is a huge name and a former champion, and so is Lyoto. They have a history. It's 1-1."
The inaugural season of "The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil" was No. 1 in its Sunday timeslot, and averaged 10 million viewers per week.
"When you start looking at the data, you could almost lump the U.S., Canada and the U.K. together, and it wouldn't be as many fans as there are here in Brazil," UFC executive Marshall Zelaznik said.
Ex-Champion Lyoto Machida is prepared to roll with what comes.
"Really, anything can happen," Machida said. "Obviously, I'm trying to train as hard as I can and put on a good fight, and I try to trace a way back to the title. But that's not really what I'm focused on right now."
"I think the UFC always positions themselves correctly, and this fight could be a great fight this weekend. 'Shogun' was obviously a champion, and Brandon Vera has fought in two weight classes – he's a great fighter, as well. This fight ... could be deserving of a title shot."
And Machida would be happy to roll into a As to a TUF Brazil coaching slot.
"I think it would be a great opportunity for the both of us," Machida said. "I would love to face 'Shogun' again, and I think he probably feels the same way. It's one victory to each of us right now, and I think it would definitely put us in a good position for title contention."
"We learn a lot from our losses, and I've learned a lot in the last few years with these losses. But I'm always looking for the best training I can get and training as correctly as I think I can. I want to come out there and surprise everyone and give a show."
And Jon Jones? He does not know what to make of it.
The winner of Shogun vs. Vera is guaranteed #1 contender at 205.
Jon Bones @JonnyBones
Scratching my head