So, who looked more impressive tonight, folks? Well, that really depends on what you happen to be judging. UFC on Fox 4 offered up two excellent light heavyweight display but for very different reasons
“Shogun” put on a much more exciting, gutsy performance against Brandon Vera. He could scarcely have put any more into the fight, as a demonstration of how much he wants another shot at the light heavyweight title.
On the other hand, Machida was his usual methodical self. He looked utterly at ease out there, completely outclassing Ryan Bader. In fact, it looked like he was toying with the former Arizona Sun Devil at times.
With all that said, Joe Rogan called it right when he said that Machida was the more impressive performer. He looked dominant against an extremely dangerous opponent.
In contrast, Rua’s bout was compelling largely because he gassed out early. His lack of cardio evened up the striking exchanges—Vera actually bested him on the feet.
To an extent, the same thing happened against Dan Henderson. “Shogun” has a habit of hitting a wall within the first few minutes of a fight, and somehow gutting his way through the remainder of the contest. If he took the time to get in shape, he would be even more formidable. A drop to 185 pounds—which is really where he belongs—would force him to improve his conditioning.
But more than tonight’s performances, the deciding factor may well have been their respective showings against Jones last year.
Rua looked extremely rusty against “Bones” last March, trudging forward and lunging at the would-be champion with telegraphed haymakers. He was comprehensively outstruck and outgrappled by the former Greco national champion.
Machida’s bout with Jones was in stark contrast to “Shogun’s” lacklustre effort. “The Dragon” arguably took the first round during their encounter last year, which is better than anyone has done since Stephan Bonnar took a young Jon Jones into deep waters.
Of course, all of this is based on the assumption that “Bones” will roll over Dan Henderson—a dangerous assumption to make. Should “Hendo” do the unthinkable, we may be deprived of the rematch we would all like to see.
However, the UFC appear to be playing the odds, banking on a Jones win. As a result, awarding Machida the shot is absolutely the correct decision and is the most compelling matchup they could possibly make for the current light heavyweight king.