UFC ON FOX Shogun v. Vera: Title shot? Or not…
This Saturday, the UFC returns to network TV with a four fight card on Fox. This event is another victim of the injury bug that the organization just can’t kick. While names like Brian Stann and Hector Lombard were moved off of the card, we are still left with one of the best events from top to bottom in recent memory. Dana White started off the week saying that whoever won the Main Event between Shogun Rua and Brandon Vera would earn the next title shot in the 205 lb. Division, sending keyboard warriors into an absolute uproar. The almighty Baldfather, forever a man of the people, then used his popular video blog to state that whoever was most impressive in the Main Event, or Co-Main Event (Ryan Bader v. Lyoto Machida) would get the next shot at the strap. While this concession did ease the fan complaints a bit, I don’t believe any of these guys deserve number one contedership. I do happen to go to sleep every night picturing Hendo delivering an H-Bomb to Jones’ smug grill to win the title, but it unfortunately a likely outcome that Jones will retain his belt in September. Jones will then be left with a number one contender that he has already beaten. These aren’t decision wins he grinded out Jackson-style either, these were powerful and emphatic finishes. No one in their right mind would pay to see Bones fight any of these guys again. Which leaves me to believe that Dana White and Jonny Bones may have something else up their sleeve after Jones fights in September. A move to Heavyweight? A Superfight? Driving lessons??? Who knows, but on to the previews!
Preliminary Card on Fuel TV
Phil Davis v. Wagner Prado
This could be the fight I am most excited about on Saturday night. Coming off a decision loss to Rashad Evans on the last FOX card, Davis is looking to right the ship and regain status as one of the elite 205 pounders in the world. Wagner Prado is the exact opposite of a stepping stone though. Prado is a late replacement for Chad Griggs, and may be twice the opponent Griggs would have been. Prado is a 25 year old Nogueira trained knockout artist. He has used his Muay Thai to earn seven KO’s in eight career fights. I am assuming Davis will look to neutralize the Brazilian’s striking with his wrestling prowess. I am looking for the Penn State product (Insert Sandusky joke here…) to control the Brazilian newcomer for three rounds and earn the victory. Davis by decision.
Main Card on Fox
Mike Swick v. Damarques Johnson
Mike Swick??? Where the heck has he been? Swick has battled back from a diagnosis of an esophageal spasm and a knee injury to be back in the octagon. With his digestive illness in check, Swick is ready to return to the UFC for the first time since UFC 109 (which was also Phil Davis’ promotional debut). It is impossible to predict what version of Swick that will show up in the cage on Saturday, but I am going to go with the emotional pick on this one. Swick’s opponent, Damarques Johnson hasn’t really impressed with his time in the Octagon. Other than arguing with Michael Bisping on TUF, the guy hasn’t done much to earn a spot on National TV. Swick by KO. Comeback complete. Movie rights sold.
Jamie Varner v. Joe Lauzon
Speaking of comebacks, Jamie Varner’s domination of Edson Barboza at UFC 146 came out of nowhere. The vet channeled the Former WEC Champ within and defeated the Brazilian upstart by setting a blistering pace and connecting with strikes at will. On Saturday he will be looking to climb the Lightweight ladder against none other than J-Lau. Lauzon is coming of a head kick KO loss to Anthony Pettis back in February. Lauzon is a deadly submission ace and will likely be looking to take Varner to the ground. Though the Massachusetts product isn’t opposed to striking I still think he takes this to the ground and finishes. Lauzon by submission.
Lyoto Machida v. Ryan Bader
Lyoto wins this fight. It is that simple. Bader is coming off that debacle of a fight with Rampage in Japan where he failed to impress against a fat, one legged Jackson. I doubt Bader will be able to utilize his wrestling against the Dragon because Lyoto isn’t stupid enough to allow the Arizona State alum to get close and tangle him up. Even if Bader does go for the takedown, the ever evasive Machida has a great sprawl that will surely neutralize the attempt. Bader does have a powerful right hand, but if a healthy Rampage couldn’t finish the Dragon, I doubt Bader can. I am looking for Machida to get his Liu Kang on and use one of his patented finishing moves to make quick work of Bader. Machida by KO.
Shogun Rua v. Brandon Vera
According to the geniuses in Vegas, Shogun is a huge favorite here. Basically to win $100 betting on Shogun, you will have to put $400 at stake. Worth it? Who knows, but it just reiterates the fact that this isn’t going to go down as one of Joe Silva’s crowning achievments in matchmaking. We all know Shogun as one of the most dangerous strikers the game has ever seen. His run through the PRIDE Middleweight Grand Prix is stuff of legend. That version of Shogun is in my top 5 “Baddest Men to Ever Walk the Earth” (Article coming soon!). Shogun does seem to have some problems with focus. Since he has come to the UFC, he has great moments in the cage and then unexplicable losses. One fight, he comes in looking like a world beater, the next he looks like he just got off a two week bender with Tony Montana. After vetoing a bout with Glover Teixeria, I believe Shogun knows what is at stake here against Vera. He is on National TV, with a KO served up on a silver platter by Zuffa. I hope he takes it seriously and delivers for the FOX audience.
I like Brandon Vera. I don’t want to negate any chance he has of winning on Saturday, but it will be a Gonzaga-esque upset if he pulls it off. He undoubtedly has solid Muay Thai skills, but Shogun’s clinch game is second to none. Vera has overcome a lot to get to this point. From home invasions to contract disputes and injuries the guy has seen it all. He knows that he has leapfrogged his way to the top to be booked in this fight. If there is anything that Vera has going for him it is that he believes this is his one shot to cement himself back into top of the division and begin to deliver on that promise he made way back when. Vera will be determined, there is no doubt about that. He says he has worked harder in this camp than any other. Sadly, I do not think it will be enough against Shogun. Rua by KO.
Agree with me? Disagree with me? Who really deserves a shot at the 205 pound belt? Post in the comment section! Follow us on Twitter!