Less than a week ago, UFC president Dana White (Pictured) claimed Mauricio “Shogun” Rua could solidify his next dibs status by posting an impressive win over Brandon Vera in Saturday’s featured attraction. On the flipside, if Vera serves up an upset special or Shogun is less than spectacular in victory, Lyoto Machida would earn the nod if he gave Ryan Bader the business in the night’s co-main event.
However, during Monday’s conference call White clarified the light heavyweight pecking order. Unfortunately for “The Dragon” and Bader, they were unexpectedly erased from the top contender picture for the time being. By the same token, White wasn’t speaking as though he expected Vera to reign supreme this weekend inside Staples Center in Los Angeles.
“I already announced the winner of Vera and Rua gets the shot,” White said in response to Machida or Bader possibly jumping the line with a devastating finish. “Of course I hope that all the fights are exciting that night, but you’re dead on when you say we do look at guys who we’d like to see get a shot at the title – we like impressive finishes. We like guys that finish.
“Shogun just came off the fight of the year last year and he’s probably one of the greatest fighters in the last decade. If you think about it, this guy knocked out [Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson], knocked out Chuck Liddell, knocked out Mark Coleman, knocked out Lyoto Machida, knocked out Forrest Griffin, knocked out Alistair Overeem twice, submitted Kevin Randleman. A win puts this guy right back in position, and he’s probably the #2 guy in the world.”
White didn’t reference Vera’s résumé once during the call.
Reigning light heavyweight king Jon Jones is set to defend his throne against Dan Henderson at UFC 151.
Jones holds convincing wins over both Shogun and Vera. “Bones” steamrolled Rua at UFC 128 to become the youngest champion in company history. Three bouts before that, he crushed Vera’s orbital bone in the opening round.
Vera most recently took a unanimous decision over Eliot Marshall. Prior to the October victory, he hadn’t sniffed a win since beating Krzysztof Soszynski in August 2009.
Henderson is coming off an instant classic unanimous decision victory over Shogun at UFC 139. Hendo has never faced Vera.