These experts have inside knowledge of the sport and a unique perspective of the fighters that they have the privilege of interacting with. Before you place that bet in Vegas or with your friends, be sure to check out what those most educated about the sport have to say about the upcoming event.
Read as 13 of the sport’s top writers and reporters break down and predict the UFC on FOX 4 main event between Mauricio “Shogun” Rua and Brandon “The Truth” Vera, scheduled for Aug. 4 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, Calif.
Mike Bohn (Fight Cove): In my mind, there are two major questions coming into this fight. First, is Mauricio “Shogun” Rua a shot fighter after the savage beatings he took from Jon Jones and Dan Henderson? And second, at 34 years old, can Brandon Vera finally live up to the expectations placed on him for all these years? My answer to both those questions is the same: no. Vera has a tough time with aggressive fighters and “Shogun” Rua is the very definition of that, especially early on in fights. The 15 first round (T)KO’s in the career of the Brazilian back that statement up. The only chance “The Truth” has of winning this fight is if he lets his all of his strikes go from the outset, not just his leg kicks. Even then, it is difficult to imagine him hurting and putting away the durable former light heavyweight champion. I see “Shogun” capitalizing on a mistake from Vera in the first round, pouncing on him and adding another quick knockout to his resume.
Dann Stupp (MMA Junkie): I’m going with the oddsmakers and picking Rua over Vera. Since that surprising loss to Forrest Griffin years ago, I’ve constantly underestimated Rua. He struggles against the absolute best in the division, but Vera just isn’t in that category. I know Vera said he’s really focused and taking this fight seriously, but I’ll believe when I see it. Vera has a lot of untapped potential, but I think Rua attacks both early and frequently to jump out to a quick lead that he won’t relinquish. I think it leads to Rua winning via KO/TKO in the second round.
Kevin Iole (Yahoo! Sports): The concern about picking Rua is that he’s taken quite a few tremendous beatings in the last year. How much does he have left? But he’s got the more tools and he’s won at the higher level. The best fighter Vera has beaten was Frank Mir, but that was a Mir who was still struggling to come back from his auto accident. He seems more fired up now than ever and, hopefully, he’s into the fight. That said, I think Rua’s striking is far superior and will be the difference in the bout. Rua by TKO in round 3.
Brett Okamoto (ESPN): Don’t see it being a slow start, really. Shogun likes to get after it and he’s not going to be too wary of Vera’s power. It’s pretty obvious the longer you stay on the outside with Vera the better chance you give him. Shogun isn’t quite as active with his hands as he used to be, but I think we’ll see that change a bit in this fight. He’s got straight punches and he’s fearless, so he really shouldn’t have a huge problem getting on the inside. Once that happens, what does Vera do? He’s good in the clinch but it’s hard to envision him locking up a horse like Shogun and dominating that position. I think Vera will have his moments (he typically does, even in the Thiago Silva fight if you think back on it real hard) but he doesn’t really have the flash knockout power you want an underdog in this spot to possess. Add in the fact Shogun is mentally tougher, and it’s real hard to see Vera winning. Second round TKO for Shogun.
Dave Doyle (MMA Fighting): Brandon Vera has been treated almost like a punchline in the buildup to this fight. But I’ve talked to Brandon at length and I’ve seen him train at Alliance MMA in San Diego and let me tell you, he’s not kidding around when he says he’s realizes this is his big opportunity. He looked sharp in camp and he’s putting in his due diligence. Now, is that going to translate into an upset? Probably not. I think “Shogun,” too, realizes this might be his last best chance to get back to the top, and he’ll bring his A-game as well. I’m expecting fireworks and I think we’ll see a better fight than people are expecting before Rua takes it via TKO.
Damon Martin (MMA Weekly): In a lot of ways this is a fight that doesn’t make sense. I mean you have Brandon Vera, who I believe has gone 0-3-1 in his last four fights because I can’t be sold on his win over Eliot Marshall, facing Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua, who is coming off a loss, but is still rated in the top five in the world. If anything, Phil Davis should be fighting Shogun, but that’s not the fight we have here. Regardless of Vera’s standing he can still be a dangerous striker if he’s on point, I just can’t buy that about him any more. Shogun’s aggressiveness and power should put Vera down a couple of times in the fight and I believe he will win either by unanimous decision or he’ll TKO Vera in the 2nd round.
Mike Straka (Fight Now! TV): First off, I wish Bader vs. Machida was the main event in this fight. There are many reasons why I say that, but the main reason is Brandon Vera. Yea he’s tough, yea he’s motivated, but he has not and will not be the same fighter he was before Jon Jones smashed his face with that devastating elbow strike the broke his face. Once Shogun gets on top of him and starts raining down ground and pound, Vera will curl up in a fetal position and wait for the ref to step in and stop the fight. I’m not saying I wouldn’t do the same thing. When an athlete suffers such an injury, the memory haunts them and anything close to it happening again will cause them to falter. We saw glimpses of that against Silva. Vera was so afraid of damaging his face – which I’m sure took a long painful time to heal -that Thiago ended up just open slapping his head like a big brother taunting his little brother. I think we will see a first or at least a second round TKO for Rua.
Guilherme Cruz (Tatame): Vera is not an easy fight for anyone, but his fight style will probably make things easier for Shogun. His best weapon is the Muay Thai with leg kicks and knees, and that’s Shogun is one of the best in the business. They’re both far from their top, but Shogun is the biggest favorite, and I see him getting the TKO on the second round.
Matt Roth (Bleacher Report): The obvious pick is Mauricio Rua. He’s had the better career and has demonstrated an ability to win against a higher level of competition. However, I wouldn’t sleep on Brandon either. He knows he’s being viewed as a stepping-stone and has been putting in the time to make sure he performs at his best. Unfortunately, I’m sticking with Shogun. Until it becomes apparent his heart is no longer in fighting, you have to roll with him in pretty much ever fight. Mauricio Rua by second round TKO is my money pick.
Geno Mrosko (MMA Mania): Dana White is one of the finest salesmen in the fight game but even he can’t twist the tale of the tape on this one. It’s rare to see a main event fight on a UFC card look so stunningly one-sided on paper but that’s exactly the case here. Shogun is better in every aspect of the game. Vera’s only path to victory is through chance — perhaps Rua suffers an injury on a takedown or he breaks his leg landing a kick. That’s literally the only way I see Vera winning this fight. Sure, he might be as motivated as he’s ever been but that doesn’t suddenly mean his skills are anywhere near Shogun. Vera should consider it a victory if he manages to avoid getting finished. I don’t think he will, though. Shogun via strikes in round two.
Stephanie Daniels (Bloody Elbow): I think that “Shogun” presents a style to Vera that’s going to make him work, but in the end ultimately I think that Shogun is going to outmaneuver him and basically overpower him. Brandon hasn’t looked very good in his last couple outings, even when he wins it’s lackluster and I just don’t see it. And “Shogun” can go for days; I just don’t see it happening. I’m going to take “Shogun” in this. I’m going to predict a finish in the second round.
Adam Martin (The Score): I’m still scratching my head why Brandon Vera is in a main event, let alone a title eliminator. Nothing against the guy, but what has he did inside the Octagon since becoming a light heavyweight to warrant this push? He’s 4-3, 1 NC as a 205er — a very mediocre record — and he had very poor performances in his last three fights. Nonetheless, he’s getting a chance to fight Mauricio “Shogun” Rua, one of the very best fighters in the division, if not pound-for-pound. Yes, Rua is coming off a loss to Dan Henderson in the “Fight of the Decade,” but that fight truly could have been a draw and it’s hard to say he’s lost his momentum coming off a fight like that. Knowing he can stand and trade with one of the hardest punchers in MMA in Henderson, I expect Rua to come out very aggressive against Vera and pour the pressure on him right away. While Vera will be able to trade with Rua for a round, exchanging punches and leg kicks to the crowd’s delight, “Shogun” will eventually pick “The Truth” apart and catch him with a big strike that knocks him to the canvass, where Rua will end the fight with a brutal ground-and-pound stoppage that puts a stamp on his No. 1 contender status. Mauricio “Shogun” Rua defeats Brandon Vera via second-round KO
Chuck Mindenhall (ESPN): Pardon the pun, but as far as Vera goes, the truth is that he’s never come close to the expectations laid on him after defeating Frank Mir back at UFC 65. Since then we’ve heard about his invention, reinvention, re-reinvention and all the subsequent new leaves that he’s turned, but we keep getting a semi-hesitant kickboxer who has developed a nervous trigger finger. To illustrate the point, the only guy he’s finished in five-and-a-half years is Mike Patt. To illustrate it further, Tito Ortiz has had more emphatic finishes over that span (one). There’s a lot of mental stuff going with Vera at this point, and you have to think that the version we’ve seen for the last couple of years is the same version that appears Saturday night in front of Shogun. And speaking of Shogun, we know what we’re going to get. He’ll play with the range, trade some leg kicks, throw a few recon counters to get the timing down, and then set up a his heavy shot. Here thinks he lands it, and if that doesn’t put Vera away early, he’ll get it done over five punishing rounds. Prediction is Rua.
Media picking Mauricio “Shogun” Rua: 13
Media picking Brandon Vera: 0