by John Morgan
LAS VEGAS – On Monday Ultimate Fighting Championship President Dana White announced that UFC on FOX 4 headliners Mauricio “Shogun” Rua (20-6 MMA, 4-4 UFC) and Brandon Vera (12-5 MMA, 8-5 UFC) are competing this weekend for a shot at the promotion’s light-heavyweight title.
“Whoever wins the most impressively on Saturday night gets the shot at the title,” White said.
White’s decision comes after a rash of fan backlash following his original announcement. UFC’s social-media-savvy fanbase immediately took to Twitter to protest the decision while citing Rua’s recent losses to both current champion Jon Jones and the champ’s UFC 151 opponent, Dan Henderson – as well as Vera’s current run of just one win in four appearances – as reasons why the bout did not deserve to be considered a No. 1 contender’s contest.
White said he listened to the complaints, and he’s making a change.
“I put together the fights that fans want to see,” White said. “The fans didn’t like the Rua and Vera choice, so here it is: The guy that wins most impressively on Saturday night out of the co-main event and the main event will get the shot at the winner of Jon Jones vs. Dan Henderson.”
The change still leaves the potential for Vera, who has registered just two wins in three years, to qualify for a championship bout. However, White said he believes an impressive win is enough for “The Truth” to deserve such an opportunity.
“There’s no doubt that Vera is getting the opportunity of a lifetime,” White said. “He’s getting the opportunity of a lifetime, but we’ll see what happens. We’ll see if he makes the most of it.”
Interestingly, champ Jones has already defeated all four potential contenders, so if he’s able to get past Henderson on Sept. 1, he’ll be looking at a rematch. The champ also took to Twitter to protest the original plans.
“Scratching my head,” Jones wrote on Monday.
However, Jones’ current run of seven consecutive wins, which includes four victories in a row against ex-UFC champs, has left him with very little new blood ready to step into a UFC title fight.
“He can scratch his head all he wants,” White said with a laugh. “Scratch away.”
“UFC on Fox 4: Shogun vs. Vera” takes place Saturday at Los Angeles’ Staples Center. A four-fight main card airs on Fox (8 p.m. ET) following prelims on FUEL TV (5 p.m. ET).