On yesterday's UFC on Fox 4 media call, Dana White stirred up some controversy when he announced that the winner of the bout between Brandon Vera and Mauricio 'Shogun' Rua would receive the next shot at the light heavyweight title.
It shocked everyone as both Shogun and Vera were man-handled by the current UFC champion Jon Jones when they fought him. What made it even more surprising was when people started to really look at each fighter's overall records since losing to Jones.
After losing to Jones on Versus, Vera was given another shot in the Octagon. He was cut from the UFC following a loss to Thiago Silva at UFC 125. It was only after the post-fight drug tests came back that Vera's UFC career was saved. He then won an extremely close decision over Elliot Marshall at UFC 137.
Shogun's road back to Jones is just as bumpy. Shogun was stopped in the third round when he fought the champ at UFC 128. It was Rua's first and only light heavyweight title defense. Following the loss, he picked up a win over Forrest Griffin and then dropped a decision to Dan Henderson in what was the fight of the year in 2011.
Neither fighter has been all that impressive as of late, which is why when fans went to twitter to complain, White amended his original plans for the light heavyweight title picture.
“When the fans speak, we listen. So whoever scores the best win, whoever gets the fans excited by going out there on Saturday and looking the most impressive, he will get the winner of Jones vs. Henderson," said White in a UFC press release.
He added, "it is down to what these four guys do Saturday night in the Octagon. Winning isn’t enough, they’ve got to win impressively. Any one of these four fighters can take things into their own hands and make a title shot happen.”
All four fighters have lost to Jones in the past, and, at one point or another, all four have been really unimpressive in victories in the UFC.
And that's the nightmare scenario.
What if no one is impressive?
What if Ryan Bader wins a boring lay 'n pray decision over Lyoto Machida? What if Machida earns a point fighting decision over Bader? It's very possible that a skilled Muay Thai fighter such as Brandon Vera could win by a fluke cut. And it's just as possible that Shogun shows up unmotivated and looking like the same guy who beat Mark Coleman at UFC 93 in a lackluster fight.
These are all possible outcomes. Now, obviously White and company expect the fighters to go and fight their butts off for redemption. And I have the same expectation. But until the night is over, there's a huge question of "what if?"