• UFC on Fox 4

Magic Machida earns title shot after Shogun goes deep

ESPN staff
August 5, 2012
Lyoto Machida fights the winner of Jon Jones v Dan Henderson © Getty Images

A four-man shootout for the next UFC light-heavyweight title shot ensued on Saturday night, and at the end of it Lyoto Machida was the man who shone brightly above the others.

The Dragon, the only man to ever take a round off reigning champion Jon Jones, delivered a knockout of Ryan Bader that saw Bader fail to lay a glove on his rival. Mauricio Shogun Rua then attempted to beat that effort against Brandon Vera, but got dragged into the deep waters.

"I think Lyoto Machida looked most impressive tonight," president Dana White confirmed. "Machida has fire in him, he wants that title back. Everything I see from him shows he wants the title shot and Lyoto, you're gonna get it buddy."

Vera gave Shogun all he could handle in Saturday's main event, but a mammoth upset was ultimately not in the cards. Rua (21-6) added another victim to his resume at the UFC on Fox 4 event, finishing Vera (12-6) with a flurry of punches at the 4:09 mark of the fourth round.

In the first round, it appeared Rua wanted to put the fight on the ground. He landed his first takedown just 30 seconds into the fight and started working to pass Vera's guard. After Vera managed to get back to his feet, Rua went for another takedown almost immediately. Vera caught him in a brief guillotine attempt but was unable to secure it.

An early overhand right from Rua wobbled Vera in the second frame and the Staples Center crowd started to sense a finish, as Vera backed up to the cage and covered up. Vera surprised them, and Rua, with a hard left hook instead that put the former champion on his heels.

Visibly tired, Rua slowed the pace of the fight way down in the fourth, pressing Vera up against the fence for the better part of the round. The finish came when Rua created separation with Vera's back still on the cage and landed a hard one-two combination. Vera never recovered from the straight right and referee Herb Dean was forced to step in.

Afterward, Rua admitted it wasn't his best performance but gave credit to Vera for a hard fight. "Brandon Vera is a good fighter," Rua said. "I have respect for him. Sorry; I didn't give my best today. I'll be at my best in the future."

By contrast, Machida looked very impressive. The former light-heavyweight champion posted a highlight-reel knockout over Bader in the night's co-main event. The finish came at 1:32 of the second round.

Machida (18-3) proved to be far too much for the talented prospect. Utilizing his elusive, counter-punching style, Machida kept Bader (14-3) completely off rhythm throughout the fight. The end came violently, when Bader went for broke and blitzed Machida with a series of punches. He ended up walking into a straight right that put him out on the spot.

It was just the second win for Machida in his last five fights, with the losses coming to a talented crop of fighters in Rua, Rampage Jackson and current champion Jones. Machida challenged Jones for the title at UFC 140 in December and lost via submission in the second round.

"I feel very well," Machida said. "I think it was a great performance. I want to say, the Dragon is back!"

UFC on Fox 4 results:
Mauricio Shogun Rua bt Brandon Vera via TKO at 4:09 of round 4
Lyoto Machida bt Ryan Bader via KO (punches) at 1:32 of round 2
Joe Lauzon bt Jamie Varner via submission (triangle choke) at 2.24 of round 3
Mike Swick bt DaMarques Johnson via KO (punches) at 1:20 of round 2
Nam Phan bt Cole Miller via split decision (29-28 28-29 29-28)
Phil Davis vs Wagner Prado No Contest (accidental eye poke) at 1.28 of round 1
Rani Yahya bt Josh Grispi via submission (north-south choke) at 3.15 of round 1
Phil De Fries bt Oli Thompson via submission (face crank) at 4:16 of round 2
Manvel Gamburyan bt Michihiro Omigawa via unanimous decision (29-28 29-28 30-27)
John Moraga bt Ulysses Gomez via KO (elbows and punches) at 3:46 round 1

This article first appeared on ESPN.com

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