Happy Friday everyone! We thought we’d take a quick look at the four main card fights that will air on Fox this weekend as the Ultimate Fighting Championship presents, UFC on Fox 4! Here we go!
Light Heavyweight Match
Mauricio “Shogun” Rua vs. Brandon “The Truth” Vera
JIM: The winner of this match could be in line for a title shot, though neither guy really screams “yeah, let’s see him and Jones”, since Jon Jones has already disposed of both of these guys (and yeah, I’m not giving Dan Henderson a chance against Jones next month…he’s a tough dude, and might last longer than anyone has, but I think Jones is the best fighter in the world right now). Vera really doesn’t deserve a title shot, even if he knocks Rua out in 9 seconds or something crazy, as he’s 1-2, and a no contest in his last four fights. I don’t think it will be an issue though, as I expect Rua to thoroughly out class Vera, and likely take him down and submit him for the win.
TOM: Regardless of the Brandon Vera that shows up in this fight (and it has been much longer since we’ve seen the fighter many thought he would become), I cannot see him standing and hanging toe-to-toe with Shogun. Look at the slate of previous fights for Rua: tough loss to Dan Henderson in possibly the “Fight of the Year” for 2011 and one that could have been his win, dismantling Forrest Griffin, the loss to Jon Jones (I agree with Jim, “Bones” is the best fighter in the world!) and a split series with Lyoto Machida, which he came out on top of. Rua is my pick here too, but I give him the nod to KO Vera no later than Round 2.
Light Heavyweight Match
Lyoto “The Dragon” Machida vs. Ryan “Darth” Bader
JIM: Machida is a former Light Heavyweight Champ who is looking to get back in the title hunt and get another title shot at Jon Jones. The winner of this match may also find themselves in the #1 contender slot depending on how things go on Saturday night, so I expect to see fireworks here. Bader got submitted the one time he fought Jones, and Machida is sneaky good on the ground at times, along with his crazy good karate striking. I’m a big Ryan Bader fan, have been since The Ultimate Fighter, but I just can’t see him getting by Machida here. I think Machida either KO’s him, or gets a decisive decision win over him. I don’t know where that leaves the #1 contender slot at the end of the night, as with these two matches you have four guys that Jones has already beaten soundly!
TOM: I was huge in the Ryan Bader camp and on his bandwagon until he ran into Jones and then the shocker against Tito Ortiz. He’s bounced back with impressive wins since that time, but did we see him hit his ceiling in the losses or can he improve and develop the aspects of the MMA game to compete at another (championship) level? Machida is a guy I have always liked, but his 1-3 record since 2010 has got to be something he is really displeased with. Bader possesses KO-power, but the question comes down to if he is able or not to oppose being stifled by “The Dragon” and able to unleash his strikes. I think Machida plays the strategy to avoid that and will earn a unanimous decision over Bader.
Joe “J-Lau” Lauzon vs. Jamie “C-4” Varner
JIM: Lauzon is coming off a quick loss to Anthony Pettis, while Varner came back to the UFC with a stunning KO of a super tough Edson Barboza back at UFC 146. I’m a big Lauzon fan, and have always wished he’d string together some wins, but every time he does, he gets a fight like the Pettis one (after a 2 fight win streak) that ends any momentum he has. Varner was out of the UFC/Zuffa companies for a year and a half before his return in May, and he looked really good. As much as I like Lauzon, I wonder if Varner has it put together now. I am going with Varner by TKO in this one.
TOM: I am a huge fan of redemption stories. Varner fits that mold wonderfully. He earned the right to be in this fight and on this card with FOX exposure. Lauzon has the the submission game to really push Varner here and I hope that we can get some exciting back and forth action with submission attempts and counters. I have to agree with Jim here again and give Varner the nod, in part because of his momentum, to take a decision win.
Mike “Quick” Swick vs. DaMarques “The Darkness” Johnson
TOM: I think Swick is relishing this opportunity to be back in the UFC. Johnson just really has not shown he is capable to put together a streak of consistency in his fighting to give me reason to think he will be able to bring a battle to “Quick.” Will Swick have the stamina after a long lay-off from The Octagon is a worthy question to ask and maybe the only glimmer of hope for “The Darkness.” My pick is Swick by TKO.
There you have it – Jim and I are unanimous on our picks for winners, but don’t agree 100% in finishes. I am excited to tune in tomorrow night and really interested in the ratings UFC will draw competing with the Olympics. Have a great weekend!