I’ve got an idea: Instead of obsessing about who really deserves the next shot at the light-heavyweight title, let’s just kick back tonight and enjoy some free fights on FOX, two of which happen to feature former 205-pound champions (both Brazilian) facing off against hungry contenders (both American). Throw in a lightweight feature between Joe Lauzon and comeback kid Jamie Varner, and Mike Swick‘s first Octagon appearance in two-and-a-half years, and you’ve got a lineup that should hopefully take some of the sting off that $55 you blew on UFC 149.
The UFC on FOX: Shogun vs. Vera main card kicks off at 8 p.m. ET / 5 p.m. PT, and our man Elias Cepeda will be guiding you through the play-by-play after the jump. Refresh the page every few minutes for all the latest, and give us the play-by-play for your own lives in the comments section.
We’re live, taters!
Well-written intro accompanied by highlights from the card’s main event fighters. The silky smooth voice of Ving Rhames narrating certainly helps, just sayin’…
Mike Swick Vs. DeMarques Johnson
Johnson is a tough out for anyone at welterweight, and we’re stoked to see Swick for the first time in two years. Impossible to know how to call this one, but we don’t have to wait much longer now to see how it plays out.
I’d forgotten how many commercials take place during these free network events. Twenty minutes into the telecast, we’re finally on to the fighter introductions. Let’s get it on.
Johnson looks relaxed. He’s too relaxed. He moves his chin from a down position to more upright and Swick lands a big right hand to the jaw, buckling Johnson. They clinch briefly and are again in free striking range.
Swick with another big right hand that hurts Johnson. Now another, and another. Johnson isn’t going down without a fight, though, and takes Swick down with a little over 3:30 left. Swick in full guard against the cage, Johnson working elbows to the face. Swick is controlling Johnson’s posture well, preventing the TUF 9 finalist from posturing up and getting leverage to land big shots.
Swick gets up to his feet and lands two big shots to the dome of Johnson. Johnson fires back and hurts Swick with a right hand. Swick gets turned away but gets back in the pocket and throws punches and knees.
Johnson gets another takedown, takes Swick’s back and now is in the mount with a little over 1:30 left. Johnson takes the back again as Swick turns over. Swick is trying but having no success getting back up to his feet. Swick turns in and gets a half guard. Johnson lands an elbow and then locks in a D’arce choke on Swick with under a minute left. Johnson appears to have the choke locked in but then lets it go.
Swick gets his full guard with twenty seconds left. Johnson with a left elbow to Swick’s head and a punch to the right side of Swick’s body. The round ends.
Swick popped up to his feet right away at the end of the last round. Johnson smiles at Swick from across the cage. They touch gloves and get to rocking again. Swick lands a right hand, Johnson lands his own. Johnson throws a leg kick, Swick grabs the kick and takes Johnson down.
Straight away, Swick lands a huge right hand to the downed Johnson and knocks him out, just like that. The first shot put Johnson’s lights out, but Swick was so quick that he got two more in the face of Johnson before referee Herb Dean reaches the action and stops it.
Mike Swick with the second round KO win.
Joe Lauzon vs. Jamie Varner
This card is full of matchups that appear too close to call on paper. And you know what, this writer happens to feel that, skill-wise, the night’s main event between Mauricio “Shogun” Rua and Brandon Vera is in that category as well. I know, I’m in the minority. Anyway, we can all agree that this lightweight bout is a great one. Will Varner continue his rise back to the top or will Lauzon get back on a road to a title shot after losing his last one?
Lauzon might have a slight edge on the ground, but will he be able to get the fight there on his terms against the strong wrestler, Varner? And if they stay on the feet, who’s striking will be better? Both men love to box, so we might be in for a treat.
Lots of feinting from both men before Varner gets off with a couple of missing punches to the head and body. Varner throws another hard right hand to the head. Lauzon blocks it but it had power. Varner now attacking the body with hooks. He’s landing.
Varner lands a right kick to the body, and then a leftkick to the leg. Varner lands a huge left hand that rocks Lauzon. Lauzon gets back in the pocket and continues to stalk Varner. Varner is still the one to get off first in the exchanges.
Not anymore. Lauzon gets off first this time, forces Varner to shoot. Lauzon stuffs it, lands a knee to the head. Lauzon’s hands are low as he stalks but now he’s firing first. Varner circles away nicely though to stay out of danger. Varner with another body kick. Varner with a glancing right hand to Lauzon’s head. Varner throws big punches but Lauzon blocks them. Joe fires back and backs Varner up, hurting him, then half attempting his own takedown. Varner doesn’t let it happen. Lauzon is landing three times the head shots as Varner is. Varner may be tiring. He took the fight on short notice.
Lauzon lands a clean right hand with under a minute left. Jamie clips and drops Lauzon. Lauzon threatens with an arm bar from his open guard right away but Varner defends. Varner looks to pass, Joe turtles up. Varner with knees to the body as he has a front head lock on Lauzon.
The horn sounds, the two get to their feet and embrace before returning to their respective corners.
Varner with an inside leg kick, then an outside round house to Lauzon’s lead leg. Varner now firing hard with punches but Lauzon covers up well. Lauzon checks a leg kick, Varner throws another one that goes throw to the back leg and nearly sweeps Lauzon.
Varner with a one-two combo, the over hand right gets to the top of Lauzon’s head. Varner clips Lauzon again with a right and stuns him. Joe goes for a single leg, Varner goes for the guillotine choke. Joe passes to the full mount, then takes Varner’s back. Varner stands up and gets Joe off of his back from the standing position.
They are both up on their feet again, striking. Varner not slowing down, throwing lots of punches to the head and body. Lauzon with a nice jab. Varner goes back to the body with punches. Lauzon lands four hooks to the head of Varner, takes Varner down, gets side control. Varner turns to his back, Joe fires punches to the head of Varner. Varner manages to get back up to his feet. Joe stays on him in the clinch, pressing him against the cage with a minute left.
Varner goes for a take down, he’s tired, though. They fall to the floor but Joe gets on top of Varner. Joe gets his back, then takes the mount, then goes for an arm triangle position with twenty seconds left. With time running out, Joe goes for an arm bar, doesn’t get it, loses position and Varner lands elbows to the head as the horn sounds.
They embrace as the round starts. Joe stalking Varner again. Varner realizes that he started the round without a mouth piece. The action is stopped so he can get it. Nuts.
Varner biding his time but throwing mean when he musters the energy to throw. Lauzon shoots for a double leg take down, but Varner sprawls expertly. He separates, Joe lands a jab. Varner shoots for a takedown, and lands it. Varner in a half butterfly guard of Lauzon.
Lauzon reverses position and gets back up to his feet. Varner throwing hard, lands an uppercut on Joe. Varner cocks back and throws a big right hand. Joe with another jab. Varner teeing off on Joe with punches and elbows, but Joe covers up and blocks. Varner gets the take down, Joe reverses, then gets rolled but locks on a triangle choke.
Joe gets the tap out via triangle choke in the third round. As Mike Goldberg says – Joe now has 22 wins, all by stoppage.
Lyoto Machida vs. Ryan Bader
Machida with his typical chin up, legs-wide stance. Bader feinting, swinging, missing. Bader taking his time, though, and not going crazy. Bader lands a leg kick, Lyoto lands a left body kick.
Two and a half minutes left. Machida lands a knee, then throws a left body kick as Bader throws a punch. Lyoto is blocked, Bader misses. Bader rushes in with punches, Machida keeps is distance while backing up.
Machida with another body kick and then an attempted over hand elbow strike. Machida lands a snapping jab that tags Bader. Bader comes in, Machida cuts an angle to his right and fires a body kick. Bader throws a left hook then gets into the clinch.
Machida breaks free and then throws a front kick to the body. Bader lands a lunging jab. The round horn sounds.
Ryan feinting hard at the start of the round. Machida doing weird hand movement stuff to get Bader distracted, as he is prone to do. Bader rushes in once more and Machida swiftly knocks the TUF winner out with a short right hook.
“I feel very well…it was a great performance. I want to say, The Dragon is back!” Machida getting his English on during his post-fight interview with Joe Rogan.
Lyoto Machida back on the winning track with a second round KO over Ryan Bader. Will that be “impressive” enough for Machida to get another crack at champion Jon Jones? I guess that’s up to “Shogun” and Vera, up next.
Mauricio “Shogun” Rua vs. Brandon Vera
Vera with a big rear body kick on Rua. Rua shoots and scores a take down on the much larger Vera. As Rogan observantly points out, Vera has had the most difficulty when he’s been put on his back and ground down.
Rua working to pass Vera’s half guard. Rua almost passes the half guard but Vera recomposes. Rua keeps working and passes the guard to side control with three minutes left. Rua switches his hips from side control, Vera turns in and tries to get to his feet. Vera wall-walks and gets to the feet. Rua presses Vera against the cage in the clinch and then dives low for a single leg attempt. Vera pulls a guillotine choke and works it from his open guard.
Rua is out! He fires an elbow strike and is in Vera’s full guard. Rua immediately works to pass guard again. He gets to half guard and begins to fire punches to the head of Vera. Vera’s got a half butterfly guard and tries to lift Rua up in the air. Rua passes to side control again with just under a minute left. Rua takes the mount, Vera turns and gives up his back and Rua takes his back!
Rua has both hooks in with thirty seconds left. Shogun has an over-under grop, then gives it up to throw light punches and hammer fists. Vera does not let Rua flatten out his hips and the round ends with Rua face down, on Vera’s back.
Vera throws a kick but Shogun responds with huge punches to Vera’s head, rocking Vera. Vera backs up against the cage, takes more shots, then knees. Vera fires back with a left elbow to Rua’s head. Vera has been hurt but he’s not giving up, with four minutes left in the round.
Vera lands a a straight left punch to Rua’s head. Vera with a right hook to the head, then a left kick to the body, then a front stomp kick to Rua’s lead knee. Vera slips aright hand from Rua then lands a huge left hand of his own. Rua responds with a cross that hurts Vera. Rua gets Vera in a Thai plum clinch control and throws lots of knees. Vera blocks well but is on the defensive. He falls to his knees, is turtled up as Shogun throws big punches.
Vera gets to his feet and clips Rua on the chin! Rua with a right hand. Rua with another right hand! Vera with an elbow. Rua lands another right hand and presses Vera against the cage. Vera turns him around and has over-under control on Rua, with his head pressed against Rua’s chin for leverage. Vera lands a slam take down and is in Rua’s half guard with a minute left.
Rua is cut and fatigued after not being able to put Vera away with his big shots. Vera looks pretty tired as well, throwing knees to Rua’s body from the half guard. Rua’s half guard is loose but Vera isn’t looking to pass. Ten seconds left and Vera fires elbows to Rua’s head. The horn sounds.
Rua presses Vera against the cage and works for a take down. Vera trying knees from the clinch there. Rua drops down for another take down. Vera defends. They are in free standing range again.
Vera with another front kick to Rua’s knee. Vera with a punch-kick combination going to the head, body and leg. Vera slips a punch from Rua, Rua presses Vera against the cage. Rua has a front head lock and knees Vera to the head.
Vera drops down to his knees to avoid being legally kneed in the head again. Shogun working the front head lock, with Vera’s right leg hooked by his left arm. Rua stands up and tees off on Vera with punches and kicks while pressing down on Vera’s head. Vera gets up to his feet and immediately lands a multiple punch and leg kick combination.
Vera lands another strike combination. Rua lands a big shot to the head. Vera lands a front leg kick, then punches and knees, hurting Rua and forcing him against the cage. Rua responds by taking Vera down. They are in the center of the ring in Vera’s half guard with a minute and a half left. Rua tries to pass the half guard.
Rua nearly in mount, Vera turns away, Rua gets to triple attack position and hammer fists. Vera turns back into Rua, using his half guard. Thirty seconds left and Vera is still using his half guard. Rua mostly pressuring and looking to pass. The round ends with Rua on top in half guard.
Rua with a a big short punch. Shogun presses Vera against the cage and looks for a take down, Vera stuffs him. Rua lands a nice knee to the body and then head of Vera. Vera with his back to the cage, working his own knees to the legs and body of Rua now.
Vera throws a short left elbow followed by a short right elbow to the head of Rua. Rua lands his own big upper cut and presses Vera against the cage again, using his own head control on Vera’s chin, then following up with a left hook to the head. Both men with over under hooks, Vera with his back agaisnt the cage. Vera lands a knee to Rua’s body. Rua backs up and they are free standing with under 1:30. Rua with a straight punch landing, then Vera rocks Rua. Rua stalks and walks Vera down, landing a two punch combo that drops Vera to the mat. Vera is out of it, Rua lands a couple more academic strikes and the referee stops the fight.
Mauricio “Shogun” Rua beats Brandon Vera via 4th round TKO stoppage from strikes on the ground. Who do you think should get the next title shot, nation?
Thanks for partying all night long with us, now go be productive members of society before coming back tomorrow for post-event press conference coverage, analysis and more.