Ah, the infamous pre-event "guaranteed" title shot, brought to you by none other than Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) President Dana White.
Once again, in the lead-up to a major mixed martial arts (MMA) event on FOX, White raised the stakes for certain fighters on the card at Thursday's UFC on FOX 5: "Henderson vs. Diaz" pre-fight press conference, promising a light heavyweight title shot to the winner of the night's co-main event between Mauricio Rua and Alexander Gustafsson.
"Look at the fights that Shogun has had -- his past two or three fights," White said. "This is definitely, there is no doubt about, he [Mauricio Rua] is the gatekeeper to that title. If Alexander can beat Shogun, he'd get the shot. If Shogun wins, he gets it. Unless some crazy shit that happens, which always does -- he has to take another fight before that because he wants to stay active or something -- but other than that, the winner of this fight will get the next shot."
The situation certainly feels all too familiar.
Ultimately, it was Machida who was granted the shot; however, the guarantee never materialized, as Vitor Belfort slipped in at UFC 152 and now Chael Sonnen is the next one in line to face champ Jon Jones, while "The Dragon" is penciled in to meet Dan Henderson in early 2013.
Many believed the winner of Machida vs. Henderson would be deserving of an opportunity to fight for the championship, but it seems the UFC has opted to go with the winner of "Shogun" vs. Gustafsson instead, a situation that is especially unfortunate for Henderson, who had a title shot lined up for UFC 151 last September before suffering a last-minute injury.
After hearing of the newly risen stakes, Gustafsson was excited about the possibilities, but remained focused on the task at hand.
"It's the most important fight of my career and by far the toughest guy," said the Swedish fighter. "When I win this fight I will be up in the mix and I'll be ready for the champ whether it's Chael Sonnen or Jon Jones."
UFC on FOX 5: "Henderson vs. Diaz" goes down this Saturday night from KeyArena in Seattle, Washington. The event is headlined by a lightweight championship bout between Ben Henderson and Nate Diaz. Also on the card is a welterweight contest that features B.J. Penn emerging from a short-lived retirement stint to take on rising contender Rory MacDonald.