Five things we learned from "UFC on FOX 4"
By James Walker
Saturday’s "UFC on Fox 4" fight card was a solid showcase for light heavyweights. Many believe champion Jon Jones has virtually cleaned out the division during his title reign, but at least two title contenders emerged with impressive victories.
Here are five things HeavyMMA learned from UFC on Fox at the Staples Center:
No. 1: Lyoto Machida is the No. 1 contender
As time passes by, it’s easy to forget about fighters in MMA. It feels like ages ago when Lyoto Machida was viewed as unbeatable, a puzzle that just couldn’t be solved at light heavyweight. Three losses later that aura was quickly erased. But Machida proved Saturday against Ryan Bader that “The Dragon” is still very dangerous. Machida used his awkward style and counter-punching to confuse and plow through Bader, another contender, in two rounds. Machida’s impressive knockout earned him the No. 1 contender's spot against the winner of Jones and Dan Henderson, UFC president Dana White announced. Machida has a style that would make a great fight against Jones or Henderson. Machida was the only fighter to give Jones trouble in their first bout last year.
No. 2: "Shogun" still in the mix
Mauricio Rua’s performance didn’t earn him the No. 1 contender’s spot, but Rua controlled his fight against Brandon Vera throughout before stopping Vera in the fourth round. This was Rua’s first fight back since his brutal, five-round loss to Henderson. Rua couldn't easily dispatch Vera, who was a big underdog. He even slowed down in the later rounds, which probably cost Rua a chance at the title. But Rua still finished, which has made him a popular fighter around the world. A top fight will be next for Rua, but it won’t be a title bout. Personally, I’d like to see Rua-Henderson II early next year if Henderson fails to beat Jones on Sept. 1.
No. 3: Brandon Vera is no pushover
Many UFC fans were shocked when Vera received top billing in the main event of a nationally-televised card. Fans were even more shocked when Vera, who was 1-2 in previous three fights, had a chance to earn a title shot with one big win on Saturday. That didn’t turn out to be the case. But Vera did prove that he wasn’t an easy fight. Vera showed great toughness by surviving an onslaught from “Shogun” in the second round. Many fighters would have succumbed at that point, but Vera made Saturday’s main event entertaining and a real test for Rua. Still, Vera lost for the third time in four fights and is clearly not championship material. But he’s not a pushover, either. Expect Vera to be on the midcard in future fights.
No. 4: Joe Lauzon is fun to watch
I can’t remember the last time Joe Lauzon had a boring fight. Whether it’s a quick finish against Melvin Guillard or Saturday’s three-round war against Jamie Varner, Lauzon always is a threat to steal the show. Lauzon and Varner earned “Fight of the Night” with Lauzon submitting Varner in the third round. Lauzon was rocked earlier in the bout, but later caught Varner with a triangle choke. Lauzon’s past five victories have come via submission. He's a slick and entertaining fighter who is fun to watch. There are plenty of possibilities for exciting fights in the future for Lauzon at lightweight.
No. 5: Mike Swick is still quick
After a two-year hiatus, Mike “Quick” Swick made quick work of DaMarques Johnson. Swick earned “Knockout of the Night” with an early second-round KO of Johnson in his comeback fight. It was a good performance and an opportunity to shake the rust for Swick, who improved to 15-4. He was once a fast-rising welterweight in the UFC until health issues and two straight losses derailed his career. Now 33, Swick made a statement that he wants to be back in the mix.