As the UFC recovers from their lackluster UFC 149 offering, it is good to look at the calendar and see what is next for the world’s biggest MMA organization. August 4th will see the UFC at the Staples Center in Los Angeles for their UFC on FOX 4 offering, headlined by the return of ‘Shogun’ Rua as he takes on Brandon Vera. Rua is a heavy favorite, with the line at the sportsbooks sitting at -325, and Vera’s comeback sitting at +265. If recent performances are an indication, then Rua is not a big enough favorite.
Once upon a time, Vera was a rising star on the UFC’s roster with talk of Vera being a potential champion in two weight classes. After those heady days, which included a fast KO of Frank Mir among others, Vera dropped two in a row at heavyweight and dropped to the Lightheavyweight division, and he has not been the same since.
Shogun is coming off a rough stretch himself, having dropped 2 of his last 3 bouts. The difference is that Vera has been a pretty consistent disappointment in his poor showings. ’Shogun’ may have lost two in a row, but one of those losses was to Jon Jones and the other to Dan Henderson. The Henderson performance, his last outing, showed that ‘Shogun’ is still a top level fighter.
Vera really needs an explosive, definitive performance, and it is highly unlikely he is going to pull it off against Rua. Vera is a good striker, but Rua is also highly skilled, and his aggressive, frenetic style is going to be too much for Vera, unless something fluky happens.
Vera came to MMA from the submission grappling world, but he has shown very little in the way of a ground game once he crossed over to MMA. And Rua’s take down defense is going to be able to hold off Vera’s takedowns, so his only chance at getting it to the ground is with Rua on top, and that is not where you want to be. Rua too, is not completely lost on the ground, and there is no assurance that Vera is better on the ground.
With the weigh ins coming up, I do want to see the body language on both fighters. I can see Rua coming in with confidence. Is Vera refreshed and renewed, or is the writing on the wall for Vera and the end of his UFC career? Im willing to bet it is…