At UFC on Fox 2, Rashad Evans earned a title shot at champion Jon Jones when he defeated Phil Davis in the main event. The same was true at UFC on Fox 3 when Nate Diaz submitted Jim Miller, and now he sits awaiting a shot at the UFC lightweight belt.
It appears the UFC will keep that theme alive with a pair of light heavyweight bouts leading the card at UFC on Fox 4, albeit in a very confusing and befuddling manner.
According to a report from Fox Sports on Wednesday, UFC president Dana White and matchmaker Joe Silva will find the next light heavyweight title contender out of the two main event bouts heading the card in Los Angeles on Aug. 4.
Should Mauricio “Shogun” Rua defeat Brandon Vera in impressive fashion, he’s likely the man who will get the call to next compete for the UFC light heavyweight title. If Rua loses or doesn’t shine the way most expect him to against opponent Brandon Vera then the UFC will turn its attention to the co-main event bout between Lyoto Machida and Ryan Bader.
“These fighters have a huge opportunity to show the world why they deserve to fight for the UFC title next,” White said in an email to Fox Sports. “Winning isn’t enough at UFC on Fox. This division is so competitive these fighters have to look great to separate themselves from the pack.
“I’m expecting all of these guys to go all-out to prove why they should be next in line for a title shot.”
This move can only be received with more than a few puzzling looks and raised eyebrows when considering whom the UFC light heavyweight champion is right now.
Jon “Bones” Jones stands as the reigning and defending champion at 205 pounds and he’s blasted through all three of the potential names that could earn a title shot at next weekend’s UFC on Fox 4 card.
Jones submitted Bader in early 2011 to earn a title shot against then champion Shogun, who he then dismantled and destroyed via TKO to claim the title in March of last year.
Jones then met former champion Machida in December 2011 and proceeded to choke him unconscious via guillotine to wrap up his second consecutive title defense.
Obviously Jones’ standing as champion could change because he has a title fight already scheduled for Sept. 1 in Las Vegas at UFC 151. He faces former Pride and Strikeforce champion Dan Henderson. Should Henderson win, that throws a whole new spin on the title picture.
The key thing to remember with all of the “No. 1 contender” talk with this show is the fact that the UFC has on numerous occasions in the past stated that a fight would determine the next title challenger only to change their minds after the night was over.
Jon Fitch was in a No. 1 contender’s bout against Thiago Alves at UFC 117 in 2010, but following his victory he never actually received the nod for a title shot.
That’s just one of many instances where a fighter or bout was intended to determine a No. 1 contender and eventually the UFC shifted gears after the fact.
With the UFC on Fox 4 show just over a week away, the title talk certainly adds an extra layer of drama to the fights on the card, but don’t expect any of the winners in the two main events to be handed a championship contract upon exiting the Octagon that night.