One day after announcing that the winner of the UFC on FOX 4 main event between Mauricio “Shogun” Rua and Brandon Vera would be granted a title shot, UFC president Dana White has changed his mind, now saying the winner of the co-main event between Lyoto Machida and Ryan Bader is in the mix to fight for the light heavyweight championship.
“When the fans speak, we listen.” White said, referring to UFC fans negatively responding to the initial announcement. “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 (at UFC 151). It is down to what these four guys do Saturday night in the Octagon.”
“Any one of these four fighters can take things into their own hands and make a title shot happen.”
While raising the stakes so high for the top four competitors on the UFC on FOX 4 card could force them into fighting not to lose opposed to fighting to win, the UFC’s head honcho says that simply winning doesn’t make you the No. 1 contender, winning impressively is what counts.
“Winning isn’t enough,” White explained. “They’ve got to win impressively.”
Rua, Vera, Machida and Bader all know what is at stake on Saturday night, and prior to the UFC’s fourth major event on FOX, the four headliners shared their thoughts on the potential opportunity to fight for the belt and what it means to them.
First, the two main event fighters, who will compete in a bout scheduled for five-rounds, shared their thoughts.
“I know winning isn’t enough; I have to look very impressive and I am planning on a fast knockout like I did against Forrest Griffin.” Rua explained. “I am not underestimating Vera, he has skills and has a lot to prove, but I have skills and want my title back.”
“I’m so ready for this. This is ‘The Truth’ resurging.” Vera stated. “I feel like I have won the lottery twice, not just fighting a legend like Shogun on FOX, but having the chance to get a title shot. ‘The Truth’ is going to shine though.”
Secondly, the co-main event fighters, who just days ago weren’t even in consideration for a title shot, provided opinions on the sudden turn of events.
“I respect Ryan Bader very much as a fighter. He will pose some great problems but I believe my training camp has been one of the best of my career,” said Machida, a former light heavyweight champion. “I am getting back on the road to the title. I know what I have to do, and I am ready for this opportunity.”
“Machida is a former champion but so were three out of my last four opponents. I’m no longer looking at these guys as fighters I used to watch on TV– they’re now my peers, my rivals. Machida is no different.” Bader stated. “No one is invincible and it is now my time to beat him and go on to a title shot.”
On Saturday night, it all comes down to performance. The opportunity of a lifetime has been placed within the grasps of all four men, now it is up to them to snatch it up.