UFC on FOX: Shogun vs. Vera
Published on Aug. 2, 2012, at 2:41 p.m. Eastern.
By Brian Edwards
The Ultimate Fighting Championship will return to Staples Center in Los Angeles this Saturday for UFC on Fox 4. The top fights will determine who will face the winner of Jon Jones vs. Dan Henderson for the light heavyweight title.
In the main event, former champion Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua will take on Brandon ‘The Truth’ Vera. Rua has been installed as an expensive favorite in the minus-360 range, while Vera is a plus-280 underdog (risk $100 to win $280).
Like most of the UFC’s recent and upcoming events, this card has been decimated by injuries. Rua was initially scheduled to meet Thiago Silva, who had to pull out of their UFC 149 bout with an injury.
The original main event was going to pit Brian Stann vs. Hector Lombard, but Stann had to withdraw with a shoulder injury. When Stann went down, Rua (20-6 MMA, 4-4 UFC) was moved from UFC 149 to this week’s main event.
Shogun is coming off of an epic performance in his unanimous-decision loss to Dan Henderson at UFC 139. After Henderson dominated the first three rounds and nearly finished Rua on multiple occasions, Rua rallied in thrilling fashion to batter ‘Hendo’ in Rounds 4 and 5.
Nevertheless, Henderson got the win in 2011’s Fight of the Year that is certainly in the debate to go down as the best fight in UFC history.
Rua lost the light heavyweight crown to Jon Jones at UFC 128 in a one-sided affair. He bounced back to run through Forrest Griffin by first-round KO at UFC 134 in Rio.
Vera (12-5-1 MMA, 8-5-1 UFC) got cut by the promotion after losing a third straight fight to Thiago Silva at UFC 125. However, the result was changed to a no-contest after Silva falsified his post-fight urine sample.
With a new lease on life in the UFC, Vera responded by winning a unanimous decision over Eliot Marshall at UFC 137. Vera was surprisingly given a fight of this magnitude and has a great opportunity in this spot.
Prediction: I think Shogun wins with a first-round finish. With that said, the straight price is too expensive for me. If you can get a prop for Rua to win inside the distance (-162 at 5Dimes as of Tuesday), then that’s what you want to do.
In the co-main event, Lyoto ‘The Dragon’ Machida will go up against Ryan ‘Darth’ Bader. Most books have Machida listed as a minus-320 ‘chalk’ with Bader available on the comeback at around plus-250 (risk $100 to win $250) odds.
Machida (17-3 MMA, 9-3 UFC) has lost three of his last four fights, including a second-round submission loss to Jon Jones his last time out at UFC 140 last December. But we should note that Machida won the first round on my card and became the first UFC fighter to give Jones any semblance of a challenge in the Octagon.
Prior to that loss, Machida sent Randy Couture into retirement with a front-kick finish that sent one of Couture’s teeth flying across the cage. The 34-year-old Brazilian lost a controversial split decision to Rampage Jackson in his first fight after losing the belt to Shogun at UFC 113.
Bader (14-2 MMA, 7-2 UFC) has won back-to-back fights since suffering the first two losses of his career to Jon Jones (second-round submission at UFC 126) and Tito Ortiz (first-round submission at UFC 132). The former Arizona St. wrestler cashed big underdog tickets in the plus-200 range with his unanimous-decision victory over Rampage Jackson at UFC 144 in Japan.
Bader used his wrestling background to score takedowns against Jackson, who claimed a knee injury caused him to miss weight. Whatever the case, Rampage was clearly sucking wind and couldn’t get back to his feet in the final stanza after Bader executed another takedown.
Before beating Jackson, Bader KO’d Jason Brilz in just 77 seconds at UFC 139.
Prediction: I give the edge to Machida in this fight but not by as wide of a margin as the odds suggest. Therefore, I think you take Bader or pass. I’ll probably do the latter.
Joe Lauzon (21-7 MMA, 8-4 UFC) was scheduled to fight Terry Etim before the Englishman pulled out due to an injury. Instead, Lauzon will face Jamie Varner in a pick ‘em affair (minus-115 either way as of Wednesday).
Lauzon is looking to bounce back from a loss to Anthony ‘Showtime’ Pettis (headkick) in the first round at UFC 144. Prior to that defeat, Lauzon picked up the biggest win of his career by stunning Melvin Guillard (first-round rear naked choke) as a decided underdog.
In 12 Octagon appearances, Lauzon has earned Submission of the Night honors four times and participated in three Fights of the Night.
Varner (20-6-1-2 MMA, 2-1 UFC) hooked up his backers as a plus-450 underdog in his upset win over Edson Barboza, who was coming off a dramatic victory via an unprecedented spinning wheel kick. Varner’s first-round KO of Barboza was his third consecutive win after a 1-4-1 slump that spanned 19 months and three different organizations.
The 27-year-old Varner is the former World Extreme Cagefighting lightweight champ who defended that belt twice before losing it to current UFC 155-pound kingpin Benson Henderson at WEC 46.
Prediction: I like Lauzon as my strongest play of the night. He’s never lost back-to-back fights in his career.
In the first bout on the four-fight card aired nationally on FOX, a welterweight clash will feature veteran Mike ‘Quick’ Swick against 30-year-old DeMarques Johnson. Most spots are listing Swick as a minus-220 favorite, while Johnson is a plus-180 ‘dog.
Swick (14-4 MMA, 9-3 UFC) has been on the sidelines due to a struggle with esophageal spasms since Feb. 6 of 2010. He lost to Paulo Thiago at UFC 109 and dropped a unanimous decision to Dan Hardy at UFC 105.
Johnson (16-10 MMA, 4-4 UFC) has lost three of his last five fights, including a submission loss (armbar) in the second round to John Maguire at UFC on FUEL TV 2 in April.
Prediction: This is a pass for me. Swick has been out too long to back at such a ‘chalky’ price and I’ve never been overly impressed with Johnson.
**B.E’s Bonus Nuggets**
–The preliminary card on FUEL TV will be highlighted by Phil ‘Mr. Wonderful’ Davis facing Wagner Prado in the unbeaten Brazilian’s UFC debut. Davis (9-1 MMA, 5-1 UFC) is an enormous minus-600 ‘chalk,’ while Prado is plus-450 on the comeback.
–In the featherweight division, Nam Phan (17-10 MMA, 1-2 UFC) will meet Cole Miller, who is a minus-135 favorite. Miller (18-6 MMA, 7-4 UFC) got dominated by Steven Siler in his return to the 145-pound division his last time out.
–Current odds for looming bouts…
Ben Henderson (-180) vs. Frankie Edgar (+150) – UFC 150
Jon Jones (-600) vs. Dan Henderson (+400) – UFC 151
Rory MacDonald (-300) vs. B.J. Penn (+230) – UFC 152
Junior dos Santos (-145) vs. Cain Velasquez (+115) – UFC 153
Georges St. Pierre (-360) vs. Carlos Condit (+270) – UFC 154
Johny Hendricks (-135) vs. Martin Kampmann (+105) – UFC 154
–Several upcoming fights were announced this week including…
Rick Story vs. Demian Maia (welterweights, UFC 153)
Erick Silva vs. Jon Fitch (welterweights, UFC 153)
Travis Browne vs. Antonio ‘Bigfoot’ Silva (heavyweights, UFC on FX 5)
Mike Pierce vs. Aaron Simpson (welterweights, UFC on FX 5)
Gabriel Gonzaga vs. Geronimo dos Santos (heavyweights, UFC 153)