“They brought me into this fight as a fish for Shogun to eat.”
So said Brandon Vera during yesterday’s hour-long “UFC’s Road to the Octagon” special on FOX, which previewed next weekend’s UFC on FOX: Shogun vs. Vera card in Los Angeles. Vera is well aware that few people are giving him a chance in the night’s headliner — especially considering that he hasn’t had an impressive victory in over three years — but the opportunity to fight Shogun and return to elite-fighter status has given him new motivation for training.
As you can imagine, Shogun has no interest in becoming the co-star in Vera’s Cinderella story. “I’m not going to be the one to bring Brandon Vera back,” he says. And if Rua wins, he’ll likely get another shot at the light-heavyweight belt, where he’d either fight a guy who already crushed him, or a guy who beat him up for the majority of a five-round war. I know, don’t get us started.
The “Road to the Octagon” special also previews the Ryan Bader vs. Lyoto Machida co-main event. Coming off his grisly loss to Jon Jones — his third loss in his last four fights — Machida may have more to lose if he doesn’t turn in a good performance on Saturday. As for Bader, the TUF 8 winner has momentum again coming off a pair of wins over Jason Brilz and Quinton Jackson, so this fight will determine where he stands in the division. A win sets him up as a title contender. A loss could give him a reputation as a guy who collapses when it counts.
We’ll leave you with one last fish analogy. Here’s Machida discussing his tendency to drop his left hand while throwing his flurries of straight punches: “Some people see it as a mistake. When you go fishing, it’s better to have a nice piece of bait. That way you can catch a bigger fish.”