John Heinis: I'm forever going to hold a grudge against Shogun for turning down a fight with Glover Teixeira after Thiago Silva got injured. Now we're all stuck with this depressing and uninteresting bout.
Mauricio Rua's lost three of his last five, with his wins coming over Machida and Forrest Griffin.
He also got destroyed by Jones when he lost the title at UFC 128...yet he gets a rematch with a win here? You can't make this stuff up.
Meanwhile, Brandon Vera is 1-2-1, with his sole victory over Eliot Marshall proving once again that a fighter can, in fact, look completely unimpressive in victory.
Yes, the Brazilian Shogun does have a tendency to fight down to his opponent's level, but let's not be ridiculous. Even if Shogun's heyday has passed, he's still a whole lot better than any version of Brandon Vera.
I'm giving just about no fathomable chance of an upset here.
Mauricio Rua via Round 1 KO
Jeffrey McKinney: While Machida and Bader lost to Jones by submission, both Vera and Rua lost to the champ by TKO.
Jones broke Vera's face in three places, and he took Rua's UFC light heavyweight title.
Many have questioned why either man would earn a title shot with a victory, considering they are either coming off of a loss or have not had a long winning streak.
The fact is, they will still be looking to knock their opponent’s head off regardless.
Both Rua and Vera are accomplished Muay Thai fighters who love to keep the fight standing.
Rua is, of course, more accomplished, due to his titles in Pride and the UFC and his 17 knockout victories.
I’m sure many people won’t give Vera much of a chance in this fight.
But considering that we don’t know which Shogun will show up and Vera claims to be motivated and has trained hard, it could be closer than many of us are expecting.
But I’m still going to go for Rua in this fight.
Mauricio Rua via unanimous decision
Dan Hiergesell: I honestly don't understand how Vera got this fight. I know he was somewhat of a fill-in for an injured Thiago Silva, but still. The guy has only beaten Eliot Marshall since 2009. That's not overly impressive.
Shogun, on the other hand, has fought the top guys in the sport for the last five years.
This includes a title bout with Jon Jones, one of the best fights of all time against Dan Henderson, two title bouts against Lyoto Machida and KO victories over Forrest Griffin and Chuck Liddell.
I don't know what needs to be said here, but there's probably no way in hell Vera defeats a hungry Shogun looking to get another shot at Jones and the light heavyweight championship.
Even if Vera somehow outduels Shogun on the feet, we've seen Rua's ability to take punishment and keep moving forward in a fight.
Assuming this bout doesn't end within the first few minutes, expect an early third-round TKO for Shogun, prompting a rematch with Jones.
Mauricio Rua via Round 3 TKO
Dale De Souza: Why would Mauricio Rua take on Brandon Vera when he had a shot to fight Glover Teixeira? Well, clearly "Shogun" sees something in Vera that no one else does.
You can't blame Rua for seeing something in Vera, because he clearly doesn't want to look past his challenger this Saturday.
Besides that, he knows Dana White has said that the man who wins most impressively in either the main event or the co-main event will likely get the next shot at the title.
Shogun also knows that if people give Vera no shot of a victory, outside of a downright robbery, then it will be at that moment that Vera will indeed make his mark and finally get his shot.
Vera's not the same fighter he was back when his competition included Tim Sylvia and Fabricio Werdum, but then again, nobody is expecting Vera to come in like the old Vera.
The man is still a lanky dude with some pretty good striking and the ability to finish fights when he smells blood.
His only issues, however, have been his ability to get over the hump and defeat a top guy when it counts, and also his ability to earn himself a finish in recent months.
Not to suggest that Vera cannot finish Rua, but the fact that his last finish came on the preliminary card of UFC 96 raises quite a few questions.
We'll give Vera a pass for the Randy Couture fight, since people will always question the decision, and Vera did get the better of the striking in that one.
However, against Rua, Vera is facing a dangerous individual who does not stop until he's gotten the finish. Rua is known for his Muay Thai, his leg styles and his aggression—the level of which Vera has never faced before in his career.
If Vera cannot come up with an answer for this striking regimen, Rua will pick Vera apart, and the end result will be sheer brutality for "The Truth."
Expect this one to stay standing all throughout. Unless Vera gets this one to the ground, Rua will pick Vera apart before timing one perfect shot and getting the win again.
Mauricio Rua via Round 1 KO (punches)