Brandon Vera threw every ounce of skill and determination housed within his 6-foot-2 frame at Mauricio “Shogun” Rua, only to come up short in his attempt to upset the heavily favored former light heavyweight champion.

Rua (21-6, 5-4 UFC) stopped the man they call “The Truth” on fourth-round punches in the UFC on Fox 4 headliner on Saturday at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. His body racked by pain and fatigue, the 2005 Pride Fighting Championships middleweight grand prix winner brought the grueling struggle to a close 4:09 into round four.

“He’s a very good fighter,” Rua said. “I’m sorry, guys. I didn’t give my best today, but I will improve to give my best in the future. The most important thing is the victory. I respect Brandon a lot. He made an excellent fight. I was more tired in the second and third rounds than I expected.”

A left hook late in the fourth period turned the tide permanently in the Brazilian’s favor. “Shogun” followed it with a clubbing left-right volley, driving the fatigued and wounded Vera to the canvas. Rua finished him there, as a series of heavy ground strikes forced referee Herb Dean to intervene on the Alliance MMA representative’s behalf.

Vera (12-6, 8-6 UFC), who once had designs on multi-division glory in the UFC, took a significant step towards restoring his place in the promotion. He attacked Rua with all-in punches, standing elbows and kicks to the head and body. In response, the Brazilian neutralized him with takedowns, ground-and-pound and strong work in the clinch. Vera remained competitive until he finally succumbed to the blows in the fourth round.

Machida Counter KOs Bader

Onetime light heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida knocked out “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 8 winner Ryan Bader in the co-main event. Bader (14-3, 7-3 UFC), who had never before been knocked out, met his end 92 seconds into round two.

Bader never solved the riddle in front of him, as Machida (18-3, 10-3 UFC) lured him into his trap with kicks to the legs and body. In the second round, Bader charged forward with a powerful right hand cocked. He was met with a Machida counterpunch and folded where he stood. A pair of right hands followed, one of them with Bader on the way down, and resulted in the Arizonan being knocked unconscious.

“I feel very well,” Machida said. “I think it was a great performance. I want to say that ‘The Dragon’ is back.”

Lauzon Triangle Submits Varner

Joe Lauzon File Photo

Lauzon finished Jamie Varner.

Joe Lauzon submitted former World Extreme Cagefighting champion Jamie Varner with a third-round triangle choke in a memorable battle at 155 pounds. Lauzon (22-7, 9-4 UFC) sealed the deal 2:44 into round three, as he won for the third time in four outings.

Varner (20-7-1, 2-2 UFC), who filled in for the injured Terry Etim on short notice, staggered Lauzon with one right hand in the first round and leveled him with another. He swarmed “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 5 alum on the ground to no avail and returned to his corner between rounds visibly fatigued.

Lauzon sank his teeth into the fight in the second period, where he twice moved to the Arizona-based lightweight’s back and ultimately mounted him with roughly half a minute remaining in the round. Varner secured a takedown in round three, only to be swept by Lauzon. The 28-year-old Massachusetts native then trapped Varner in a triangle during the transition, coaxing the tapout.

Swick’s Return a Knockout

In his first appearance in more than two years, the American Kickboxing Academy’s Mike Swick knocked out “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 9 finalist DaMarques Johnson 80 seconds into the second round of their welterweight showcase. Stuck on the sidelines with an assortment of injuries, Swick (15-4, 10-3 UFC) had not fought since his submission loss to Paulo Thiago at UFC 109 on Feb. 6, 2010.

Not all went according to plan for the 33-year-old Houston native. Johnson (15-11, 4-5 UFC) had him in serious trouble in the first round, as he moved to full mount, battered him with elbows and threatened him with a plethora of chokes. Swick refused to give in. In the second round, he caught a low kick from Johnson, drove him to the ground and delivered a wicked standing-to-ground right hand that knocked the Jeremy Horn protégé unconscious. Swick landed two follow-up ground strikes for good measure.

“I had to take what I could get. He came [out] a lot harder than I thought [he would]. He hit me in the eye in the first round, and I still can’t see out of it,” Swick said. “I was really worried that I couldn’t see out of one eye, so I was taking any shot I could and throwing with everything I had. I wanted to get a knockout tonight.”

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