Many, including current Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Light Heavyweight champion Jon Jones, were left scratching their heads when UFC President Dana White announced at today's (July 30, 2012) UFC on Fox 4 conference call that the winner of Saturday's main event fight between Mauricio Rua and Brandon Vera would get the next 205-pound title shot.
Sure, both have had their shining moments inside the Octagon, however, if we are going by more recent body of work and records, they aren't exactly screaming title contenders.
Rua is coming off a unanimous decision loss to Dan Henderson after a thrilling back-and-forth five round war with his former Pride FC colleague, who will face current light heavyweight kingpin Jon Jones at UFC 151 on Sept. 1, 2012, in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Vera, on the other hand, was last seen inside the Octagon putting up a less than stellar performance against Eliot Marshall back at UFC 137. Prior to that, he was on a three-fight losing streak, one of which was overturned to a "no contest" after Thiago Silva failed a drug test after their UFC 125 fight.
Lyoto Machida, who will take on Ryan Bader in Saturday's UFC on FOX 4 co-main event of the evening, was also mentioned amongst one of the top candidates to challenge next for the title; however, now that he knows he is currently not in the running, he was remarkably diplomatic about idea of "The Truth" or Rua getting next shot at either "Bones" or "Hendo."
Check out what "The Dragon" had to say during the UFC on Fox 4 media conference call after the jump:
"I think the UFC always positions themselves correctly, and this fight could be a great fight this weekend. "Shogun" was obviously a champion, and Brandon Vera has fought in two weight classes - he's a great fighter, as well. This fight... could be deserving of a title shot."
After splitting his first two encounters with "Shogun," Machida say's he would love nothing more than to complete a trilogy bout with Rua if it means getting closer to the title:
"I think it would be a great opportunity for the both of us. Obviously I would love to face ‘Shogun' again, and I think he probably feels the same way. It's one victory to each of us right now, and I think it would be a great ideas and definitely put us in a good position for title contention."
Should Rua prove victorious against Vera this weekend, the UFC should have no problem selling a rematch with Jones or Henderson given their past history. Jones emphatically claimed the title from the Brazilian back at UFC 128, which kick started his dominant reign at 205-pounds.
A rematch between Henderson and "Shogun" will be rather easy to sell, given their previous encounter. I mean, who wouldn't want to see a redo of their instant classic back at UFC 139?
Should Brandon get the win, the Zuffa marketing machine will have its work cut out for them because a majority of the mixed martial arts (MMA) community doesn't think either one of them deserve a shot at UFC gold just yet.