LOS ANGELES-An urgency to become the next light heavyweight contender ignited Brazilian's Mauricio "Shogun" Rua and Lyoto "The Dragon" Machida to knockout victories on Saturday in the Ultimate Fighting Championship showdowns.
So who gets the light heavyweight champion Jon Jones? Looks like its Machida.
In front of more than 16,000 fans at Staples Center, Brazil's Rua (21-6) slugged it out with San Diego's Brandon "The Truth" Vera (12-6) in one of the more entertaining fights of the year. Not to be out done, Machida knocked out his opponent decisively too on the UFC on Fox fight card.
Brazil's Rua never seems to engage in easy fights. This was as tough as it gets.
Rua dominated on the ground after taking Vera down when the San Diego fighter attempted a kick. All through the first round Vera was under Rua's control and it looked dismal for the American fighter. But he survived.
Vera came out punching in round two but was driven back with some serious blows by Rua. It looked bad for Vera who looked like he was seeking cover, but it was all a ploy to get Rua back in range and a big right hand rocked Rua. The battle went back and forth.
Rua looked tired in round three but came out swinging any way. Vera absorbed a lot of punishment but returned fire every time there was a glimmer of hope for a stoppage. Rua looked befuddled by Veras resiliency.
Both fighters looked tired coming out for round four. Rua and Vera came out swinging and kicking but the Brazilian tried to take down Vera and was unsuccessful. Both began to fire again when a right hand by Rua caught Vera who stopped to fix his mouthpiece. The Brazilian closed in quickly with some more heavy blows and down went Vera. This time for good. Referee Herb Dean stopped the fight at 4:09 of the round for a technical knockout win for Rua.
“Brandon Vera is a very good fighter,” said Rua, who is a former light heavyweight champion. "I didn't do my best today..I was a little tired from the second round on."
MACHIDA WINS TOO
Brazil's Machida (18-3) ended his light heavyweight clash with Ryan “Darth” Bader (15-3) with a single punch in round two to end the fight at 1:32 as referee John McCarthy stopped the fight. For most of the first round Machida occassionally feinted and kicked while trying to entice Bader to engage. The second round saw Bader jumped toward Machida and he ran into a right hand to the jaw. Down he went with a thud. Machida fired one more tentative blow but realized that the Arizona fighter was unconscious.
"The Dragon is back," said Machida, who hopes to get the shot at the UFC light heavyweight champion.
Machida was named after the fight to meet the the winner between UFC light heavyweight champion Jon “Bones” Jones and Dan “Hendo” Henderson in September.
Lightweights Joe Lauzon (21-7) and Jamie Varner (20-7-1) battled furiously for three rounds before Lauzon menauervered into a triangle choke at 2:44 of the third and final round. Arizona's Varner started quickly behind some nifty punching, but Lauzon hung tough and proved stronger as the fight lasted. Though Varner scored with some take downs, Lauzon was able to reverse the mount and wrap his legs around Varner's neck for the tap out.
San Jose's Mike Swick (15-4) caught a kick by Salt Lake City's DeMarques Johnson (18-11) and put him down and pile drived three right hand bombs for the knockout. Swick started quickly with his speed but Johnson took him down in the first round. Then the ill-fated kick attempt by Johnson led to the knockout by Swick at 1:20 of round two of the welterweight match.
"He came a lot tougher than I thought," said Swick. "He hit me in the eye in the first round and I couldn't see."
Southern California's Nam Phan (18-11) and Georgia's Cole Miller (18-7) slugged it out for three rounds in a featherweight fight that had the fans cheering. Combination punching by the shorter Phan had him starting quickly, but Miller began using his height and reach to find the range with his punches. The third round was close and Phan won by split decision 29-28 twice and 28-29. In the end Phan's combination punching proved the difference.
In a good looking light heavyweight match up Phil “Mr. Wonderful” Davis (8-0) inadvertently poked Brazil's Wagner Prado (9-1) in the right eye with his index finger. The referee determined that Prado was unable to fight and declared the bout a no decision at 1:46 of round one.
Brazil's Rami Yahya (17-7) was allowed by Massachusetts fighter Josh Grispi (14-3) to take the fight to the ground and that was a bad thing for the American. Using his ground techniques Yahya was able to manuever into a north-south choke where he literally choked out Grispi with one arm at 3:15 of the first round of a welterweight fight.
Great Britain's Phil De Fries (9-1) softened up fellow British Oli Thompson (9-4) with some crushing right hands and a knee. Finally, in round two De Fries delivered a right and submitted Thompson with a rear naked choke at 4:16 of round two in a heavyweight contest.
Hollywood's Manny "The Anvil" Gamburyan (12-7) overcame a sluggish first round to out point Japan's Michihiro Omigawa (13-12) in a three round featherweight bout. Both landed powerful blows but Gamburyan's take downs proved the difference.