Los Angeles will be the site of the battle to see who gets a rematch with the mixed martial arts light heavyweight champion Jon Jones.
The theme should be called “I Hate Jon Jones club.”
Four fighters on the main and semi-main event have all fought and lost to Ultimate Fighting Championship’s light heavyweight king Jones. It’s coming full circle on Saturday.
Former champions Mauricio “Shogun” Rua (20-6) fights Brandon “The Truth” Vera (12-5) and Ryan “Darth” Bader (15-2) meets Lyoto Machida (17-3) at the Staples Center. All will be televised live on Fox television on Saturday Aug. 4.
The last time UFC visited L.A. Rua fought Machida in October 2009. It was a tremendous light heavyweight championship battle with Machida emerging the winner by controversial decision. Rua would avenge that defeat and grab the title.
Rua knows the taste of Jones’ elbows and strikes and has openly discussed a rematch with the current champ. The Brazilian MMA star faces former heavyweight contender Brandon Vera, who now fights as a light heavyweight. Neither can afford a loss at this juncture in their careers.
Vera, 34, has never faced Rua before but both have fought and lost to Jones. It’s their one connection and only a win keeps them on the path of vindication. Vera lasted less than one round when he fought Jones in 2010. Rua not only lost the fight but the world title against Jones in March 2011.
“They both kick very, very hard. I’d love to see them both kick-box in the center of the Octagon, I think that would be a really exciting fight if they go ahead and go that way,” said now retired former champion Chuck “The Iceman” Liddell.
No matter how you look at it, Jones is the center of the light heavyweight universe.
Machida, 34, was knocked out in two rounds by current champion Jones. The Brazilian karate expert engaged with Jones this past winter and made one simple mistake and paid for it with his consciousness. Concussions are a common effect when fighting Jones.
Bader, 29, is the youngest of the mythical I Hate Jon Jones Club. When he faced the current champion he was choked out with a guillotine hold in February 2011.
“Even Jon Jones – with all that speed and range – couldn’t really hit Machida in their fight. Remember Machida backed up and hurt Jones in that first round. I think Bader needs to get the takedown very quickly in the fight before Machida hits his stride or he will have problems,” said former champion Randy “The Natural” Couture.
Any four of these fighters would love another crack at the champion Jones.
Two well known lightweights clash when Joe Lauzon (20-7) fights Jamie Varner (20-6-1) in a three round bout. Lauzon and Varner are UFC veterans with a similar style that points toward an aggressive and entertaining fight.
Cole Miller (18-6) faces Nam Phan (17-11) in the Octagon in a featherweight match up. Fans are seldom disappointed when the 145-pounders perform.
Undefeated light heavyweight prospect Wagner Prado (8-0) fights Phil Davis (9-1) in a three-round affair.
Josh Grispi (14-3) hopes to prove his skills against Rani Yahya (16-7) in another featherweight battle set for three rounds.
Glendale’s Manny Gamburyan (13-8) finally fights at home and faces Michihiro Omigawa (13-11-1) in a featherweight slugfest. Gamburyan formerly fought as a lightweight but is moving down a weight division for this fight.
Fights on television
Fri. ESPN2, 6 p.m., Mercita Gesta (25-0-1) vs. Ty Barnett (20-2-1).
Sat. Fox, 5 p.m., Mauricio Rua (20-6) vs. Brandon Vera (12-5)
Sat. Fox, 8 p.m., Deontay Wilder (23-0) vs. Kertson Manswell (22-5).
Sat. Telefutura, 10 p.m., Diego Magdaleno (22-0) vs. Antonio Davis (29-7).