Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua won Saturday’s main event at UFC on Fox 4 in Los Angeles at Staples Center, knocking out Brandon ‘The Truth’ Vera in the fourth round to hook up his backers as a minus-400 favorite.
However, Lyoto ‘The Dragon’ Machida was named the No. 1 contender in the light heavyweight division thanks to his second-round KO of Ryan Bader in the co-main event. Machida will face the winner of Jon Jones vs. Dan Henderson (UFC 151) for the 205-pound belt.
Rua got off to a fast start early in the opening stanza, scoring a quick takedown and maintaining top position for more than two minutes. But Vera was able to get up and after landing a knee to the body, he locked on a guillotine choke and fell to his back.
The choke was tight but Rua was able to wiggle out and go to work with some ground-and-pound punishment. Rua secured full back mount with 45 seconds left and won the round 10-9 on VegasInsider.com’s card.
Round 2 was an absolute slugfest. Rua struck first and appeared to have Vera in all sorts of trouble with a barrage of strikes in the first 30 seconds. But Vera showed incredible toughness to not only weather the storm but surge back with several big combinations and kicks that backed up Shogun.
Rua then mounted another assault that forced Vera to his knees. Shogun took his back again and blood began to flow from Vera, who nonetheless was able to get up and land a huge right that caused a cut under Rua’s right eye.
Vera got a takedown and finished the round in top position, prompting VI to give him the second stanza.
The pace slowed a bit in Round 3 with Rua causing the most damage out of the clinch. Yet the former champ appeared to be gassing and Vera was still very much in the fight. Vera connected with a couple of combos and a headkick midway through the round, but Shogun responded with a trip takedown and rode out the round in the top position.
The early portions of Round 4 were spent in the clinch. Upon separation, Shogun tagged Vera with an uppercut. Moments later, the final onslaught began with a big right that sent Vera down face first. Rua then pounced on his opponent and finished the bout.
Gamblers taking ‘over’ 3 ½ rounds brought home a nice payout in the plus-240 range (risk $100 to win $240).
Machida won the first round against Bader thanks to a slew of kicks and a few nice punches that connected. Bader didn’t seem to have a plan and couldn’t come anywhere close to finding his range.
In the second round, Bader threw caution to the wind and rushed Machida only to get caught with a beautiful counter right that put Bader to sleep. It was Bader’s first career loss by KO.
Bettors taking ‘under’ 2 ½ rounds cashed plus-155 tickets (paid $155 on $100 wagers).
Joe Lauzon beat Jamie Varner in a thriller when he locked on a triangle choke at the 2:44 mark of the third round. Lauzon hooked up his betting supporters in the pick ‘em affair.
Lauzon took home an extra $100,000 in bonuses, garnering both Fight of the Night and Submission of the Night honors.
To begin the four-fight card on Fox, Mike ‘Quick’ Swick returned to the Octagon after 31 months off to beat DeMarques Johnson with a second-round knockout as a minus-220 favorite. Swick caught a legkick from Johnson and as Swick put Johnson on his back, he landed a perfectly-placed right to send Johnson into next week. Swick landed two more shots before referee Herb Dean intervened.
Nam Phan captured a split-decision win over Cole Miller as a plus-120 underdog in a featherweight contest that was an entertaining kickboxing affair. Phan had a 29-28 advantage on a pair of judges’ scorecards, while the other judge had it 29-28 for Miller.
Phil ‘Mr. Wonderful’ Davis caught Wagner Prado with a deep eye poke just 82 seconds into their fight. With blood coming from Prado’s eye, the ref was forced to declare the bout a no-contest. A rematch will probably be lined up when Prado, who was extremely emotional after the fight was stopped, recovers. White suggested that the October card in Minneapolis that’ll be headlined by Travis Browne vs. Antonio ‘Bigfoot’ Silva is a distinct possibility.
Davis was the biggest ‘chalk’ on the card at around minus-600.
**B.E.’s Bonus Nuggets**
--Rory MacDonald has been forced to pull out of his UFC 152 match against B.J. Penn due to an injury suffered in training. MacDonald can’t have contact for a month due a cut to his forehead that required 40 stitches. It is unclear if Penn will remain on the September card.
--Dana White revealed much more than the MacDonald news at the post-fight presser. He also said that heavyweight champ Junior dos Santos has requested to fight Alistair Overeem instead of Cain Velasquez. Although White wouldn’t commit to JDS-Overeem, he conceded that he was thinking about it.
--Retirement didn’t last long for Matt ‘The Hammer’ Hamill, who will return to the Octagon to face UFC newcomer Roger Hollet at UFC 152. Hamill called it quits after a loss to Alexander Gustafsson last August. Hamill’s trainer Duff Holmes told YahooSports.com that the light heavyweight is back for the long haul with hopes of making a run at the title.
--What’s next for Shogun? Dana White told MMAnytt.se that a fight against Alexander Gustafsson is definitely a possibility.
--Swick won KO of the Night and an extra 50 large.
--Announced gate: $1.1 million
--Announced attendance: 16,080
Brian Edwards can be reached at email@example.com.
For daily sports gambling analysis, follow Brian Edwards on twitter at Vegasbedwards.