The main event of tonight's UFC on Fox card sees a former UFC champion, Mauricio Rua, go to war with the former phenom of the sport, Brandon Vera. It is a main event that promises strong standup action and a knockout finish.
For Rua, this is a fight he cannot lose for two reasons. The first is because Vera is much lower in the light heavyweight rankings than Rua and would undoubtedly push him further away from the top than if he took a closer fight.
The second reason is because a title shot is within his grasp. Should Rua win and do it more impressively than the co-main event winner (Lyoto Machida vs. Ryan Bader), the title shot is his.
With that opportunity, Rua can attempt to erase his memory of when Jon Jones took his title in a one-sided beating.
Now, if Rua wishes to defeat Vera, he is going to have to do a couple things.
The first is use his aggressive style to make Vera uncomfortable. Rua's striking is extremely aggressive, which will turn Vera into defensive mode. While many people aren't giving Vera much of a chance, people forget how strong his Muay Thai game is.
Rua is also well-versed in Muay Thai, especially when he uses his aggression to push forward. Remember, his aggression helped win late rounds against Dan Henderson, despite losing the early rounds.
Another thing Rua will need to do is surprise Vera with takedowns and clinches. I expect that Vera is anticipating a striking war with the Pride legend, so if Rua can throw in random takedowns and advantageous clinch work, not only will he win the rounds, but he can finish the fight.
The game plan for Rua is simple, and it is to win anyway possible. While I expect this fight to be a kickboxing match, I wouldn't be surprised if Rua tries to mix it up if he can't achieve a first-round knockout.
Many may not be giving Vera a chance, but this is going to be a fight. When your back is against the wall, you have nowhere to go but forward. Vera won't go down without a fight.