UFC on FOX 4: Does a Fight with Vera Make Any Sense for Shogun?
It seems everyone had an opinion on the UFC’s decision to match Mauricio “Shogun” Rua in the main event at UFC on Fox 4 against Brandon Vera this Saturday. Most of those were detractors wondering why a legit top-five light heavyweight like Rua would take a fight against a man whose career is hanging by a thread.
The fact that this fight is taking place at all and that the winner is being touted as the next title contender is a testament to the poor state of the division rather than of the skills of the fighters themselves.
Jon Jones wiping out of all the top light heavyweight contenders, leaving some of the most experienced and well-heeled fighters in the world as also-rans, is wholly responsible for this state of affairs.
After Dan Henderson, there are few fighters left at that weight class worthy of a shot. Jones has cleaned out the division and those upcoming stars waiting in the wings, such as Alexander Gustafsson and Phil Davies, still lack the experience and need another win against a top-five opponent to be considered contenders.
That leaves division stalwarts such as Rua and Lyoto Machida, men who’ve already tasted defeat at the hands of Jones, fighting for a shot.
But what exactly does a win against such a perfunctory character in the UFC, such as Vera, do for Rua’s stock?
It’s no secret that the Brazilian was originally offered fellow countryman Glover Teixeira but refused the fight—either because he was scared of a potential loss or didn’t feel that win would bring him anywhere closer to the title.
Does a fight against Brandon Vera make any sense for Shogun Rua?
That belief is clearly misplaced. Despite his deeper history in the organisation, Vera’s cache is hardly greater than Teixeira’s. And if Dana White is hinting that a win against the Filipino-American would bring Rua a title shot, then there’s no reason to believe that a win against Teixeira would not have done the same.
After a storm of protest on Twitter, White rescinded his promise that the victor between Rua and Vera would get a shot, instead giving that honour to any one of the light heavyweights who proves himself with a dominant victory on Saturday.
That fact alone shows what little worth a win over Vera is regarded by the wider UFC fanbase. But, at the same time, it means that Vera is considered a much easier fight for Rua. And, considering that there is no obvious next contender to fight for the title, Rua will find it much easier to dominate and prove himself against Vera than he would have against the relatively unknown and dangerous Teixeira.
UFC on Fox: Shogun vs. Vera is taking place on August 4, 2012 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, Calif.
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