Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua won his main event clash with Filipino-American Brandon Vera at UFC on Fox 4 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, but it was Lyoto ‘The Dragon’ Machida who impressed UFC president Dana White enough to earn a shot at the light heavyweight championship that will be defended by current champ Jon Jones against Dan Henderson on September 1.
Machida finished Ryan Bader in impressive fashion, crushing his incoming opponent with a right hand that knocked Bader out as the referee stepped in to stop the co-main event fight.
Rua encountered a little more resistance against an in-form Vera in the main event, battling for over three rounds before landing some clean shots and finishing off a downed Vera with some ground and pound.
White had previously stated that whoever among the four fighters wins ‘most impressively’ in the card would be named the number one contender for the belt, and would get a shot at the winner of the Jones-Henderson fight.
In usual Machida fashion, he established distance early and pretty much avoided taking much damage in his fight against Bader. In the second, Bader was caught by a crushing right as he was moving forward as the fight was stopped at the 1:32 mark of the round.
Rua was pretty much in control most of his fight, having a clear advantage in the standup, particularly in significant strikes, and even controlling the wrestling game, taking Vera down multiple times and doing damage from the top. He easily slipped past Vera’s half-guard on the ground, getting side control and even taking his opponent’s back late in the first.
But Rua looked like fatigue was catching up to him, even as early as the second round. In the fourth, though, he hurt Vera on a series of punches and finished things off on the ground.
Vera came in with one of his better performances of late, showing he can hang with one of the top fighters in the light heavyweight division. He ate a lot of strikes from his opponent, but also dished off some good shots, connecting on several short elbows and kicks to the body throughout the fight. But he was still likely behind on the scorecards, even before Shogun knocked him out.
At the end of the card, White made the announcement that Machida was the most impressive fighter, and would be next in line to fight for the 205-lbs belt.
If Jones wins his defense against Henderson, he will set up a rematch against Machida, whom he choked out with a big standing guillotine in December last year.