When news broke Monday that the UFC on Fox 4 headliner between Mauricio “Shogun” Rua and Brandon Vera will determine a No. 1 contender to challenge current light heavyweight champion Jon Jones, the MMA world let out a collective groan in frustration.
UFC President Dana White then amended that news, noting that the winner of Rua-Vera won't necessarily get the next title fight, but rather whoever wins most impressively between Rua-Vera and the other light heavyweight fight between Lyoto Machida and Ryan Bader, will be the next challenger for Jones.
It’s true that the news makes Saturday night’s fight card significantly more intriguing, however the decision to give Brandon Vera an opportunity to potentially compete for a UFC title still leaves many fans scratching their heads.
Vera is coming off of a win over Eliot Marshall, but he had lost his previous three fights in devastating enough fashion that the UFC opted to cut him from the roster. When it was later revealed that Thiago Silva had submitted a falsified urine sample for his fight with Vera, the loss was later turned into a no-contest...but everyone remembers the beating he took nonetheless.
Prior to that devastating thrashing which gave him a horribly broken nose, Vera was on the receiving end of yet another highlight reel butt-kicking as an elbow from Jon Jones broke his face in three different places.
Needless to say, prior to the uninspiring win over Marshall, who has since been cut by the UFC, Vera had been on a terrible streak of losses which had all but completely eliminated the hype that surrounded him early in his UFC career.
Yet somehow, much to the surprise of just about everyone, Vera was given a fight against former UFC light heavyweight champion Mauricio “Shogun” Rua. Worse yet, if Vera somehow wins that fight, he could be the one to challenge Jon Jones (or Dan Henderson) for the title next.
It’s true that Jones has completely steamrolled through the UFC’s 205-pound division, so there really aren’t many obvious contenders for the belt.
But Brandon Vera? Really?
This is a guy who, at the current moment, barely cracks most top-25 lists, let alone top-10 lists. There has to be someone else who would make for a more interesting No. 1 contender.
How about Alexander Gustaffson? How about Glover Teixeira?
Both of them, and others, would be significantly better opponents for Jon Jones than Brandon Vera.
I mean no disrespect to Brandon Vera as a fighter because he certainly does have the talent to get back to being a top contender, but winning one fight against a guy who is no longer employed by the company, after three straight losses, should not put someone in a championship contenders' fight.
The decision has been made, though, and the winner of Shogun-Vera or Machida-Bader will get his chance to dethrone Jones.
Come Saturday night, we could be talking about the rematch that no one wants to see—Brandon Vera vs. Jon Jones.