Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is all set to blow the roof off the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California, at tonight's (Sat., Aug. 4, 2012) UFC on Fox 4: "Shogun vs. Vera" fight card, which features a double main event that will determine the next top contender to the light heavyweight championship.
First up is the event headliner, Mauricio Rua vs. Brandon Vera. The match-up looks like a blowout on paper, heavily in "Shogun's" favor but Vera is so grateful for this opportunity, feeling as though it's a new lease on his fighting life, that he's coming with absolutely everything he's got.
"When I first came into this sport, guns blazing, destroying people, I would say I was cocky, for sure. The way I feel right now, I still feel the same way but I wouldn't call it cocky, I would call it confident. I'm ready, prepared and excited. Just the improvements in the attitude and how everything has come together. People always say they've never been in the best shape or they've never been like this before; I really haven't man. This is something new to me. If I get to fight Mr. Jones next, that would be cool but we'll deal with that when it comes."
Rua, on the other hand, is motivated by the fact that a victory could earn him a rematch against Jon Jones, the man who took his light heavyweight championship from him last year.
"I respect Brandon Vera. He's a veteran fighter. He's fought in two divisions. I know that on my road to the belt I must first defeat Brandon Vera so I'm just concentrating on that. I'm very motivated by the possibility of a title shot. But right now I'm focusing on my fight with Vera. Once that's done, I will begin to think about the next step. The fans can expect the best from me. I've always tried to put on a great show and exciting fights. Everyone knows that I'm always looking for a knockout and that won't change with my fight on Saturday."
We'll hear from the co-main event participants after the jump.
Ryan Bader, though he knows how much is (potentially) on the line for him, is focused singularly on the task in front of him. Giving Machida anything less than 100-percent of his attention could result in an embarrassing defeat. He knows this.
"It's a huge fight for me but I approach it like any other fight. I'm getting in there in the Octagon with another guy across from me and I gotta go out there and do my job, which is to win. Fighting for the title is going to be amazing but I've gotta go out there and do what I've been training to do anyways, so it doesn't change anything. It just gives me that extra little push, if I even needed it. I'm ready and I'm just going to go out there and do my job as best I can."
Machida is presenting a far more cerebral approach, though that's not surprising. He, too, is motivated by the potential to regain the 205-pound title that was once his but that's not what's important right now. What's important is impressing the fans and, in turn, his bosses.
"The pressure's always there but I'm not thinking about getting a title shot right now. It's definitely more motivation. My primary goal is to go out there and put on a great show and a good fight. Bader has a pretty heavy right hand and he's a wrestler. He can always go for the takedown so I have to be very careful of that. I think the key to my victory is patience, tranquility, and being able to execute the right technique at the right time."
Plenty of criticism has been levied at this card but UFC President Dana White is giving away two of his top light heavyweight fighters on free TV and made sure to raise the stakes as high as he possibly could.
Let's hope they deliver later this evening.
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