UFC on Fox 4: Post Fight Breakdown

Mauricio Rua vs. Brandon Vera Mauricio Rua is better than Brandon Vera. We knew that coming into the fight. But even in a loss, Vera showed the heart of a champion. He brought the fight.

Mauricio Rua vs. Brandon Vera

Mauricio Rua is better than Brandon Vera. We knew that coming into the fight. But even in a loss, Vera showed the heart of a champion. He brought the fight to Rua and refused to quit. He could have been finished at several points in the fight. Instead, he continued to throw back at Rua and put every ounce of his being into the fight. He fought until his body shut itself off against his will.

The first round opened with a quick kick from Vera. But Rua set the tempo for the fight almost immediately by landing a surprise takedown. He passed to side control but didn’t do much damage. Vera got back to his feet and attacked with a guillotine but Rua defended fairly easily and landed ground strikes before taking Vera’s back. Rua dominated the round and the outcome of the fight seemed inevitable at that point. Rua opened the second round with a big leg kick followed by a punch combination that pushed Vera back to the cage. Rua pounced for the finish and the fight seemed over. Vera briefly dropped but popped back up. And not only did he pop up, he popped up throwing. For the rest of the round, both fighters took turn landing huge shots. Vera landed big elbows and Rua responded with big punches and knees. Both fighters seemed to be tiring more from the damage they were absorbing than a lack of conditioning. Vera scored a takedown late in the round and rode out the remaining time in top position. The third round saw both fighters continue to tire. But that didn’t stop them from continuing to exchange big shots. Both fighters were hurt but neither was dropped at any point in the round. Rua landed two takedowns including one at the end of the round. The fourth round was similar to the third until Rua landed a combo that hurt Vera. He followed him to the cage and landed another big right hand. Vera’s body finally gave out on him and he crumpled to the mat.

For Shogun, his performance may have earned him a title shot. That will be up to the UFC. Lyoto Machida’s victory over Ryan Bader was impressive and I’m not sure exactly how they will determine whose performance was more impressive. But the more important outcome of this fight was what it means for Brandon Vera. He went toe to toe with one of the best light heavyweights in the history of the sport. Hopefully, he can bring the work ethic and mental approach he discovered for this fight into his future fights. If he does, he will be a threat. He won’t fulfill the title potential he showed early in his career, but his performance was enough to earn him the right to continue fighting at the higher levels of the division.

Lyoto Machida vs. Ryan Bader

Lyoto Machida put on a clinic against Ryan Bader on his way to a devastating second round knockout. Early in his UFC career, Machida was considered a boring fighter because he stayed on the outside and avoided danger forcing his opponents to attack and take all the risks. After several flashy finishes, he seemed to lose track of that strategy and became the aggressor. After suffering losses for the first time in his career, he returned to his roots and used his movement to beat Ryan Bader. Bader spent the entire first round trying to find a way to close the distance. He was not successful. Machida stayed on the outside and landed counter kicks and knees whenever an opportunity arose. The second round was playing out exactly the same way and the fans began to get restless just as they did in Machida’s early UFC fights. As soon as the fans started booing, Bader bull rushed Machida and lost the fight as the former champion obliterated him with a counter right. Only Bader knows if he rushed because he heard the fans booing but the timing certainly begs the question.

The win obviously puts Machida in the discussion for the next title shot. The only question will be whether the UFC determines his or Mauricio Rua’s victory to be more impressive. The loss is a setback for Bader as he continues to struggle with the top tier of the light heavyweight division. He made no attempt to use his wrestling to keep Machida off balance and will need to utilize his full game if he hopes to be a title contender. Power boxing will not be enough against the elite of the division and that seems to be all he brings to the cage recently.

Jamie Varner vs. Joe Lauzon

Taking this fight as a replacement and not having the time to go through a full training camp came back to bite Jamie Varner in the second fight of the night. He hurt Lauzon several times in the first round with big right hands but was unable to finish. By the middle of the round, he was already breathing through his mouth and trying to buy time between combinations. Lauzon brought the same aggression and explosiveness he brings to every fight firing back at Varner and landing a big knee in the middle of the round. The second round saw the momentum begin to shift definitively in favor of Lauzon as Varner continued to tire. Lauzon managed to take Varner’s back twice in the round and landed the bigger punches in the exchanges. The fighters engaged in several brawling flurries and were both lucky to escape without being hit cleanly. By the beginning of the third round, Varner looked exhausted and Lauzon had an obvious cardio advantage. Varner came out and immediately used his explosive takedowns to try to control the round. He took Lauzon down almost immediately but Lauzon got up quickly. Varner again landed a takedown but Lauzon used the momentum to sweep. Varner countered and reversed position but in the transition, Lauzon locked up a triangle and Varner was unable to escape.

This was arguably the fight of the night but it could have been even better if Varner had been able to perform at his peak but he took the fight and has no excuses. If he could have continued to land takedowns and navigate his way through the final round, he probably would have won a decision. Instead, Lauzon gets the victory and muddies the picture at lightweight even further. The division is so deep that it will be difficult for any one fighter to string together enough victories to get into the title picture. Fortunately for the UFC, Anthony Pettis is already in line for the next shot so the division has some time to sort itself out. Lauzon will likely see another one of the top contenders in the division and try to put together back to back victories. For Varner, he will likely have to step back and once again begin climbing perhaps the toughest ladder in the UFC.

Mike Swick vs. Demarques Johnson

Mike Swick opened UFC on Fox 4 by earning a knockout victory over Demarques Johnson in a triumphant return to the octagon after more than two years away due to injuries and illness. The opening round saw both fighters land big strikes and engage in dangerous brawling exchanges. Both fighters were hurt at various points but neither landed clean enough to end the fight. After landing a right hand, Johnson pressed forward and ended up on top of Swick. From there, he progressed to the full mount and landed heavy shots. Swick escaped the mount but quickly found himself in a perfect D’Arce position. But luckily for him, Johnson seemed to lack the technical ability to finish the choke and allowed Swick to escape the position and the round. Swick came out in the second round looking to change the momentum. He landed a left hand early in the round. Johnson threw a kick, which Swick caught and used to score a takedown. As Johnson’s back was hitting the mat and before Swick had even landed on top of him, Swick landed a huge right hand in the transition and knocked Johnson out cold. Swick landed two more shots before referee Herb Dean was able to step in to stop the fight.

Overall, Swick couldn’t have hoped for a much better outcome. He showed some rustiness and he never seemed to get fully comfortable in the fight. He left openings for Johnson and a better fighter might have been able to take advantage of those openings. But Swick did enough to earn the victory and even managed to do so in a way that reminded fans of his reputation for quick finishes earlier in his career. Swick will obviously earn a step up in competition and only time will tell how far this comeback will go. For Johnson, this puts him on the verge of leaving the UFC. Because he provided an entertaining fight, he likely earned some leeway but he needs to put together a couple wins in a row if he wants to move forward in his career.

Satisfying Photo of the Day: Kim Couture Gets Her Ass Kicked by Another 0-0 Fighter

(Props: Sherdog)
Inspiration to all women Kim Couture competed at Ring of Combat 32 in Atlantic City on Saturday, dropping a unanimous decision to Team Tiger Schulmann product Munah Holland, who was making her pro MMA debut. As captured in…

Kim Couture Munah Holland
(Props: Sherdog)

Inspiration to all women Kim Couture competed at Ring of Combat 32 in Atlantic City on Saturday, dropping a unanimous decision to Team Tiger Schulmann product Munah Holland, who was making her pro MMA debut. As captured in the photo above, the aftermath was eerily familiar. The loss dropped Couture’s record to 3-4, and comes just three weeks after her submission victory over Felicia Wells at an Absolute Action MMA event in Kentucky; Wells also had an 0-0 record going into the fight, just like Couture’s two previous opponents, Marianna Kheyfets (who Couture lost to by first-round submission) and Rosa Vizcarra. Couture’s spotty record against inexperienced fighters is very surprising, considering what a beast she is in training.

In other somewhat-depressing weekend MMA news…

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