What a great main event!
In a bout that many expected to be a lopsided, Mauricio "Shogun" Rua pulled out a fourth-round TKO over Brandon Vera in what ended up being a very competitive fight.
It was a surprisingly grappling, heavy showing from Shogun, who's usually content to stand and bang. Perhaps, he underestimated Vera's striking a tad coming in.
Vera put forth an overall gutsy effort, and it was more than clear that he wanted in his bones to win.
However, it wasn't meant to be, and Shogun put together another win on his way back to the title.
Keep reading for specifics on how the fight went down and what's next for each fighter...
It's been an incredible night of fights so far, and the main event is about to get underway.
Vera opens with a body kick. Both men throwing lots of kicks. Shogun snags an early takedown. Sitting in half guard. Vera looks puzzled and disappointed. No real damage from Shogun yet. He's looking to pass, though. Vera doing a good job of controlling from the bottom.
I wonder how much he trained off his back for this fight. Shogun passes for a moment, but Vera pulls it right back to half guard. Now, he makes side control. Looks to pin down an arm and Brandon spins and gets to his feet. Shogun initiates clinch. Shogun drops for a single. Tight guillotine for Brandon Vera! It looks tight! Shogun fights out.
Man that was close. Shogun in Vera's guard. Passes again to half. Landing some big left hands from the top. Shogun gets to side control again. Vera rolls, and Shogun has the back. Shogun looking for a choke. He settles for some ground-and-pound. Vera throwing some ineffective elbows from the bottom. Shogun landing solid but not devastating shots.
Wild striking from both men off the top. Shogun lands some good knees in the clinch and follows it with a right. Vera is rocked, and Shogun is landing! Vera clinches and makes it out of a tough spot. Vera lands some solid shots and lets Shogun know he's still there. Two nice right hooks from Vera.
Vera looking pretty comfortable on the feet. Right when I say that, Shogun lands a big right and Vera is rocked again! Shogun clinches and brings Vera to the ground, and Shogun is looking to take the back. Vera is back to his feet, but his face looks messed up. Nice right from Vera. Good overhand right from Shogun. Straight right from Shogun.
Vera answers it with one of his own. They're clinched now and kneeing the body. Vera has Shogun pinned against the cage. Shogun breathing from his mouth. Vera hits a takedown. Vera is hitting Shogun with weird shoulders to the body. Half guard for Vera. Shoulder strike to the head now.
Herb Dean calling for Vera to work. Nice elbow from Vera at the end. Shogun was busier on the feet, but Vera may have stolen it with the takedown.
At the start of the third, both guys look gassed. Vera comes flying forward with a knee, and now, they're clinched against the cage. Shogun working for a single leg. Now, he's working with just one underhook, and both are landing little knees. They're separated now. Right hand from Shogun when Vera tried to kick. Thigh kick from Vera. Left from Shogun.
Shogun initiates the clinch. He manages to drag Vera down. Working a front headlock. Nice knee to the body from Shogun. Shogun has control of Vera's head and leg. Shogun just stands over Vera in an awkward moment of inactivity, and then, Vera rushes to his feet. Back on the feet. Vera is being the more aggressive striker.
Charges Shogun with a knee to the body and clinches. Shogun hits a trip and is on top. Shogun moves to half guard. Shogun not doing too much from the top—probably conserving energy. Shogun looking to mount. Shogun lands some good punches but gets stuck back in half guard. Vera doing a good job of controlling Shogun's hands and avoiding damage.
Both men looking tired at the start of the fourth. Vera seems more aggressive standing. Shogun lands a good punch and backs Vera up into the clinch. Not much happening in the clinch—basically a stalemate. It's obvious that Shogun really wants this fight on the ground. They separate from the clinch, and Vera comes forward. Knee to the body from Vera.
Big uppercut from Shogun and they're back in the clinch. Herb Dean telling them to work, as there is not much happening. Shogun unable to take Vera down again and separates. Solid punch from Shogun. Vera makes a huge mistake and takes time to adjust his mouth piece while still in Shogun's range!
Shogun makes him pay with a huge straight-left/right-hook combination, and Vera goes down. It looks like he's out! Shogun is landing shots, and Herb Dean stops the fight.
Official result: Shogun Rua wins via TKO at 4:09 in Round 4.
Despite the loss tonight. Vera had an impressive showing tonight. Most people believed that Shogun would destroy Vera, and it ended up being a competitive matchup.
It's a loss, sure, but Vera showed that he can hang with some of the best.
I say set him up with a Thiago Silva rematch. Silva won the fight when the two men first met, but later failed a post-fight urine test.
It was a bit of a rocky performance for Shogun—definitely not the best we've seen from him—but he did get the win.
It looks like Lyoto Machida is going to get the next title shot at 205 lbs, so Shogun will have to settle for another top contender in his next fight.
Alexander Gustafsson makes a lot of sense.