Hyoung Chang, Denver Post
Monday, July 30, 2012 | 3:15 p.m.
- Jon Jones speaks to media for the first time since DWI arrest, talks next fight
- Dan Henderson’s UFC 139 victory over Shogun Rua goes down as all-time classic
- Jon Jones brings super performance to octagon and streets at UFC 128
- UFC’s Thiago Silva used fake urine in attempt to alter fight-night drug test
- Jon Jones impressive both physically and mentally after dominating Brandon Vera
- UFC coverage
Mauricio “Shogun” Rua and Brandon Vera resembled horror-movie victims after encountering UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones in the octagon.
Jones beat Vera so badly in a first-round TKO win two and a half years ago that the veteran had to undergo facial reconstruction surgery and take nearly a year off. Jones battered Rua to the point where the veteran was left senseless trying to tap out to strikes after the referee had already stopped their fight at UFC 128.
So it’s not surprising that Jones reacted negatively Monday after finding out he could soon face a rematch with one of the two fighters.
“Scratching my head,” Jones tweeted.
Many involved in mixed martial arts shared the same response to Dana White’s announcement that Saturday’s UFC on FOX 4 main event between Rua and Vera was officially a title eliminator.
The winner of the match between Rua and Vera will face the victor in the UFC 151 headliner pairing Jones and Dan Henderson, possibly before the end of the year.
“This is almost like winning the lottery twice,” Vera said.
Or three times. Dating back to January 2011, the UFC released Vera after he lost his third straight in a unanimous-decision against Thiago Silva.
A fake urine sample from Silva changed the result to a no-contest and gave Vera another chance. He made the best of it — barely — by surviving a late onslaught to win a unanimous decision over Elliot Marshall at UFC 137.
Injuries thrust him into the spotlight on the FOX card against a former champion in Shogun. A shallow pool of contenders for Jones now has Vera on the verge of a championship bout.
“This guy could bust out and be the guy everyone thought he was going to be a couple years ago,” White said of Vera, who was considered the brightest prospect in the sport after beating Frank Mir six years ago. “You never know what’s going to happen Saturday. Some crazy (expletive) might go down Saturday that has Jon Jones saying, ‘Oh man, this fight is going to be tough.’”
Even with White’s reasoning, Vera as a viable challenger for Jones sounds like a stretch. Shogun at least makes sense on some level.
The former champion hadn’t fought in 10 months before the first time he faced Jones and cited the time off as a reason for his sluggishness. Shogun is a proven commodity in MMA with knockout victories over several of the sport’s icons like Chuck Liddell, Quinton “Rampage” Jackson and Lyoto Machida, who meets Ryan Bader in the UFC on FOX 4 co-main event.
“He’s one of the greatest fighters in the last decade,” White said.
“A win would put this guy right back in position. He’s probably the No. 2 guy in the world.”
That’s ignoring that Shogun is coming off of a loss by unanimous decision to Henderson in 2011’s Fight of the Year. But many, including White, felt the judges should have scored the bout a draw.
Victories by Shogun and Henderson in the next month could set up a highly marketable rematch. But if Jones holds onto his belt, a heavily favored scenario, White will force him to grant a rematch.
“The reality is when guys keep winning, if you’re a top guy and you keep beating people, you might see another guy coming your way that you already beat,” White said.