Machida and Ryan Bader
are now in the running for a UFC light heavyweight title shot.
Promotion officials announced Tuesday that the UFC
on Fox 4 co-main event could have championship implications,
contrary to a previous statement by UFC President Dana White, who
Monday pegged the winner of Saturday’s headliner between Mauricio Rua
and Brandon Vera
as next in line for a crack at the gold.
Now, White says whichever fighter puts forth the best performance
on Saturday night will receive the shot at the winner of Jon Jones’
Sept. 1 title defense against ex-Strikeforce champion Dan
Henderson at UFC 151.
UFC on Fox 4 takes place at Staples Center in Los Angeles; the
evening’s four-fight main card will be broadcast on Fox’s flagship
network, while the prelims air immediately prior on Fuel TV.
“When the fans speak, we listen. Whoever scores the best win,
whoever gets the fans excited... will get the winner of
Jones-Henderson,” White stated in a release. “It is down to what
these four guys do Saturday night in the Octagon. Winning isn’t
enough; they’ve got to win impressively. Any one of these four
fighters can take things into their own hands and make a title shot
Machida, 34, has lost three of his last four after beginning his
career with 16 consecutive victories. The Brazilian karateka
captured the UFC light heavyweight title in 2009, but relinquished
it the following year in his second title defense against Rua. A
split decision loss to Quinton
Jackson would follow, though “The Dragon” rebounded from that
defeat by retiring Randy
Couture with a beautiful front kick. Machida most recently
competed last December, when he was choked out by Jones in a failed
title bid at UFC 140.
Meanwhile, Bader recovered from back-to-back losses to start 2011
by knocking out veteran Jason Brilz
in just 77 seconds last November at UFC 139. “Darth Bader” returned
to the cage on Feb. 26, earning the biggest win of his career by
outpointing Jackson at UFC 144 in Saitama, Japan. The winner of
“The Ultimate Fighter” Season 8, 29-year-old Bader holds notable
victories over Keith
Rogerio Nogueira, and Vinny