UFC on FOX 4: Info and Predictions for Shogun vs Vera
For Rua, it’s a chance to re-establish himself in the light heavyweight division after crushing defeats to Jon Jones and Dan Henderson. For Vera, it’s a return from the wilderness, being on the brink of getting cut from the UFC and now facing a top five opponent who could help him leapfrog in the rankings.
Elsewhere on the card, there are other light heavyweights facing similar predicaments. Lyoto Machida, once the darling of the division, is also looking to comeback from a championship fight loss to Jones last December, and he faces Ryan Bader; formerly riding a 12-fight undefeated streak until he too fell to Jones. But now Bader has the momentum of two victories behind him, and a win over Machida will be the most significant in his career.
With Phil Davis also on the card, the light heavyweight division is in for a complete shakeup come Saturday. However, some young and up-and-coming fighters from the lighter divisions will also be hoping to make their mark in what promises to be a well-rounded and tensely fought contest.
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Ulysses Gomez vs. John Moraga
Opening the event on Saturday night is a flyweight showdown between Ulysses Gomez and John Moraga.
With both the division and fighters new to the UFC promotion, it is difficult to predict how this event will go down.
Gomez is the fighter with the more solid pedigree, having fought in both Bellator and Tachi Palace Fights before being snapped up by the UFC. He won both the TPF flyweight and bantamweight belts as well as being a Bellator bantamweight tournament quarterfinalist.
The Mexican-American fighter has a 9-2 record with a strong wrestling base and seven submissions to his name. He has gone to decision twice in his career and has yet to score a knockout.
His opponent Moraga is evenly matched with a comparable 10-1 record and most of those victories coming by way of submission.
The lighter weight classes are known for their high-paced action and you can expect both fighters to go at it from bell to bell. With barely a cigarette paper separating the two, this could end in a controversial split decision or even a draw. But with a stronger wrestling base the advantage will belong to Gomez going into the match.
Prediction: Ulysses Gomez via split decision
Manvel Gamburyan vs. Michihiro Omigawa
Next up on the card is a featherweight bout between two men desperate to turnaround unenviable losing streaks. Both Manvel Gamburyan and Michihiro Omigawa have gone 1-3 in their last four matches and a win for both is essential if they are to be sure of their place in the UFC roster.
That fact alone should produce a barn burner against two of the best judo specialists in the division. However, of the two, Gamburyan is the much more experienced fighter with his recent losses against the likes of Jose Aldo, Tyson Griffin and Diego Nunes.
But just because he’s lost to tougher competition than Omigawa’s recent defeats to Darren Elkins and Yuri Alcantra is poor indication of how a fight between the two will go down.
With both evenly matched grapplers, striking will be key in this match, with the advantage in that department falling to Omigawa.
Gamburyan has a reputation for being a power puncher, but aside from a KO against Mike Brown in 2010 and Jorge “Glass Jaw” Santiago in 2003, that strategy has rarely gone his way.
If Omigawa can keep the fight standing, of which there is little doubt that he can, the Japanese should be able to pick his opponent apart over the three rounds.
Prediction: Michihiro Omigawa via unanimous decision
Phil De Fries vs. Oli Thompson
Next up are Englishmen Phil De Fries and Oli Thompson slugging it out in the heavyweight division.
Both men are relative newcomers to the UFC with both coming off losses and neither having set the world of MMA on fire in their short careers.
De Fries and Thompson are likely the least accomplished heavyweights fighting in the UFC and their lacklustre performances so far don’t bode well for Saturday night.
De Fries has relied on his BJJ purple belt to finish seven opponents in his career but was put to sleep inside 43 seconds in his match against Stipe Miocic in February.
Former strongman Thompson also relies on his grappling with few striking skills to speak of. His lack of ability on his feet was brought to sharp relief after Shawn Jordan finished him in the second round with strikes in March.
But De Fries is hardly the electrifying striker himself and in the end sheer power may favour Thompson.
Prediction: Oli Thompson by split decision
Josh Grispi vs. Rani Yahya
The second of three featherweight bouts of the night will see the Brazilian BJJ specialist Rani Yahya going up against youngster Josh Grispi.
The pair are another two fighters coming off losses, but the younger Grispi has the more solid record, racking up 10 straight wins before succumbing to Dustin Poirier at UFC 125 last year.
Sadly his fight against Poirier was an indication of how far he still has to go to be a true challenger in the division, after the Louisiana native demolished Grispi over three rounds. What Poirier started, George Roop, in Grispi’s next fight, finished.
Roop visited a similar punishment on the 23-year-old, stopping him with body blows in the third round.
A loss to submission specialist Yahya would almost certainly spell doom for his UFC career, but then he’s up against someone who also has his back up against the wall.
Grispi will need to rely on his stand-up if he’s to overcome the far superior grappler in Yahya, but that stand-up was almost non-existent in his last two fights. Taking that into consideration, the older more experienced Yahya could dictate where the fight takes place and finish it on the ground.
Prediction: Yahya via submission in the second round
Phil Davis vs. Wagner Prado
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The fifth fight of the night will be the first of three light heavyweight bouts with all eyes on hotly tipped prospect Phil Davis coming back from a one-sided loss to Rashad Evans.
He’s expected to put his career back on track against undefeated Wagner Prado making his UFC debut on Saturday.
Prado has knocked out all but one of his opponents, and there is every chance that he will score an upset against Davis and cement his own position in the division.
Trained by Team Nogueira, Prado’s Muay Thai is exceptional, however, he’s never contended with a grappler of Davis’ calibre.
How this fight goes will depend on how good Prado’s takedown defence is, with Davis undoubtedly looking to put the Brazilian on his back.
With that in mind, there’s one of two ways this fight will go—Prado catches Davis on the way in, or Davis stops him on the ground.
At 6’4", Prado is a huge light heavyweight in a sport that is beginning to favour the longer more rangy fighters. He will prove more than a handful for Davis, and this match could go either way.
However, going on experience alone, Davis is the favourite going into the fight.
Prediction: Phil Davis wins by submission
Cole Miller vs. Nam Phan
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The final featherweight match is between TUF semifinalist Nam Phan against division journeyman Cole Miller.
Miller has never been able to put more than two wins in a row together and has languished between lightweight and featherweight, never really finding a home in either division.
Nevertheless, he has some of the nastiest submission skills in the UFC, notching up 13 wins by submission and never facing the same fate himself in his entire career.
He is hardly likely to be challenged by Nam Phan who has gone 5-8 in his last 13 matches and 1-3 in his last four.
Despite two electrifying performances against Leonard Garcia, which hinted at a star in the making, Phan was mauled by Jimy Hettes in his last fight in December, proving how completely useless he is on his back.
That’s where he’s most vulnerable and against submission specialist Miller, it may well spell a short night for Phan.
Prediction: Miller submits Phan in the first round
Mike Swick vs. DaMarques Johnson
The main card on Saturday night will kick off with a welterweight contest between Mike Swick and DaMarques “The Darkness” Johnson.
Swick is coming off a two-and-a-half-year layoff following his second-round defeat at the hands of Paulo Thiago. He was once considered a top contender in the division before a knee injury left him sidelined .
His opponent, Johnson, last fought in April when he was beaten via armbar by John Maguire.
Since losing to James Wilks in the TUF final in 2009, “the darkness” has failed to put together more than two back-to-back victories. Nevertheless, one thing that can be said of the Utah native is that he brings a “do-or-die” attitude to the cage.
He has a highly aggressive style of fighting and will prove a handful for Swick. However, that aggressive style has landed him on the wrong end of a submission more than once in his career, and his opponent on Saturday has one of the nastiest guillotines in the business.
Johnson will be counting on Swick’s “cage rust” to tilt the match in his favour. Having been out of competition for so long, the night could prove overwhelming for Swick and he could fade in the later rounds.
With that in mind, a stand-up brawl, which comes more than natural to Johnson, could be his ticket to an assured victory.
Prediction: Johnson gets it by third-round TKO
Joe Lauzon vs. Jamie Varner
Source: Tough Talk MMA
A lightweight affair between Joe Lauzon and Jamie Varner will be the second fight of the main card on Saturday.
After scoring a highly regarded victory against Melvin Guillard in October, Lauzon fell to Anthony Pettis at UFC 144, stalling his ascent in the stacked lightweight division.
Lauzon has become well known for his exciting fights, regardless of the outcome. In three of his four UFC losses, he still came away with Fight of the Night honours. He's also racked up Submission of the Night bonuses in four consecutive wins.
His opponent is a former WEC champion with notable wins against Donald Cerrone and, more recently, Edson Barboza. A heavy underdog, Varner used his wrestling and powerful striking to pull off a stunning first-round TKO against Barboza, marking his first win at 155 lbs since 2009.
You can expect a really tough matchup here with Lauzon attempting to make this a grappling contest in search of a submission win. But Varner has the takedown defences to keep this standing, where neither fighter has a clear advantage.
Both fighters have knockout power, but Varner has the much stronger chin, and this is where he’s likely to win the contest.
The lightweight division is the most unpredictable in the UFC and this one has Fight of the Night written all over it.
Prediction: Joe Lauzon via submission in the second round
Lyoto Machida vs. Ryan Bader
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The co-main event is a classic wrestler vs. striker fight as NCAA Division I All-American Ryan Bader takes on Lyoto “The Dragon” Machida.
Both fighters are Top 10 light heavyweights desperate to avenge their losses against the irrepressible Jon Jones.
Bader, now on a two-fight win streak is over-reliant on his wrestling, and this may prove a flawed strategy against the elusive Machida.
Machida’s impeccable takedown defences and one of the most effective striking games in MMA could be too much for Bader.
Bader has rarely shown the ability to deal with a striker of Machida’s calibre, and he’s going to find it very hard to land that powerful right hand of his.
Machida plays a patient game, wearing his opponent down, feeling him out and looking for that opening which lands him a KO victory. That style is likely to prove effective against Bader.
Prediction: Lyoto Machida by TKO in the first round
Maurício Rua vs. Brandon Vera
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In what is probably the most uneven match on Saturday’s fight card, the main event between Mauricio Rua and Brandon Vera will also decide the next title contender according to Dana White.
Rua is a Top Five light heavyweight and Vera is lucky to still have a job in the UFC after eking out an embarrassing decision win over Elliot Marshall in October.
Vera had all the talent in the world, racking up four straight wins in the UFC back in 2006, which was capped by a first-round TKO of former heavyweight champion Frank Mir. But his star faded quickly as he went 3-5 in his next few matches.
Still, his past performances give him a name in MMA which is what lured Rua to accept the fight in the first place.
And Vera is fired up, knowing that a win over the Brazilian could fulfil all that potential which was once promised long ago.
That’s a long shot. Rua, last seen in the Octagon engaging in one of the all-time greatest wars the sport has ever seen, a five-round classic against Dan Henderson, is a battle-tested warrior that presents a number of challenges to Vera.
Both have great Muay Thai, but if recent performances are anything to go by, Rua is leagues ahead and will demolish Vera on his feet.
The Filipino-American is unlikely to fair better in the grappling, with Rua’s BJJ black belt likely to make short work of Vera if the fight goes to the ground.
Prediction: Rua wins by second-round TKO