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UFC on Fox 4 breakdown, betting odds and picks

Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua and Lyoto Machida are big favorites on top of the card

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Justin M. Bowen

Lyoto Machida, left, connects with Shogun Rua Saturday night during the main event of UFC 104 at Staples Center in Los Angeles. Machida won a controversial unanimous decision for the UFC light heavyweight title.

Sports books are preparing for a wave of bettors looking to parlay the favorites in the two headlining bouts at UFC on Fox 4 Saturday.

Mauricio “Shogun” Rua and Lyoto Machida are more than 3-to-1 favorites against Brandon Vera and Ryan Bader, respectively, in two top-billed light heavyweight clashes in Los Angeles at the Staples Center.

The majority of the Las Vegas Sun’s picks panel won’t argue against combining the two former champions from Brazil with the promise of an improved payout. Four of five prognosticators sided with both Rua and Machida.

Check below for a breakdown, betting odds and picks from every fight featuring Las Vegas Sun’s Case Keefer (56-45 year to date), ESPN Radio’s Steve Cofield (62-39), KSNV’s Kevin West (60-41), ESPN.com’s Brett Okamoto (59-42) and Las Vegas Sun’s Ray Brewer (51-50).

Brandon Vera

  • Age: 34
  • Height: 6’3''
  • Weight: 205
  • UFC record 8-5
  • MMA record 12-5
  • Out of: San Diego
  • Betting line: +280

Mauricio “Shogun” Rua

  • Age: 30
  • Height: 6’0''
  • Weight: 205
  • UFC record 4-4
  • MMA record 20-6
  • Out of: Curitiba, Brazil
  • Betting line: -350

Light Heavyweight Bout

Main Event

Last fight: Defeated Elliot Marshall by unanimous decision at UFC 137.

Punch list: Vera was once considered the future of the UFC. That came to a screeching halt in 2007 when “The Truth” dropped two straight to Tim Sylvia and Fabricio Werdum. After starting his UFC career 4-0, he’s gone 4-5 in the last five years. But he says he’s back to feeling how he did at the beginning of his run, if not better, energized by getting a bout with a former champion.

Staff picks: KSNV and ESPN Radio

West: Rua

Cofield: Rua

Last fight: Unanimous-decision loss to Dan Henderson at UFC 139.

Punch list: Shogun lost his last fight, but didn’t fall down the rankings at all. If anything, he’s improved his standing in the 205-pound division. The war with Henderson was the best fight in UFC history by many accounts and could have possibly been scored as a draw after Shogun dominated the final round. Nothing was lost except maybe some time off of his career, as the damage he sustained can’t be conducive to long-term health.

Staff picks: Las Vegas Sun and ESPN.com

Keefer: Rua

Brewer: Vera

Okamoto: Rua

Ryan Bader

  • Age: 29
  • Height: 6’2”
  • Weight: 205
  • UFC record 7-2
  • MMA record 14-2
  • Out of: Tempe, Ariz.
  • Betting line: +260

Lyoto Machida

  • Age: 34
  • Height: 6’1''
  • Weight: 204
  • UFC record 9-3
  • MMA record 17-3
  • Out of: Belem, Brazil
  • Betting line: -320

Light Heavyweight Bout

Co-Main Event

Last fight: Beat Quinton “Rampage” Jackson by unanimous decision at UFC 144.

Punch list: A lot has changed in Bader’s life within the last six months. Most importantly, the Reno native became a father. When it comes to fighting, Bader overhauled his coaching staff and has seen the switch pay immediate dividends. The win over Rampage was the biggest of his career and gave him a two-fight win streak, putting consecutive losses to Jon Jones and Tito Ortiz last year in the background.

Staff picks: KSNV and ESPN Radio

West: Machida

Cofield: Machida

Last fight: Second-round submission loss to Jon Jones at UFC 140.

Punch list: The UFC traditionally doesn’t like to match a fighter coming off of a loss with one coming off of a win. But both UFC on FOX 4 headlining bouts are set up that way, as Machida’s last time out brought a failed attempt to take the belt from Jones. The former champion can hardly be blamed, as no one has come close to knocking off Jones. But if the karate master were to lose here, he’d be 1-4 since 2010. That’s a major concern.

Staff picks: Las Vegas Sun and ESPN.com

Keefer: Machida

Brewer: Bader

Okamoto: Machida

Jamie Varner

  • Age: 27
  • Height: 5’8’’
  • Weight: 156
  • UFC record 2-1
  • MMA record 20-6-1
  • Out of: Glendale, Ariz.
  • Betting line: +100

Joe Lauzon

  • Age: 28
  • Height: 5’10’’
  • Weight: 155
  • UFC record 8-4
  • MMA record 20-7
  • Out of: Bridgewater, Mass.
  • Betting line: -130

Lightweight Bout

Featured Contest

Last fight: First-round TKO victory over Edson Barboza at UFC 146.

Punch list: Because of Varner’s two-year reign at the top of the WEC lightweight division, he seems older than he is. It’s dangerous to realize Varner could possibly be reaching his prime just in time for his second run in the big show. He got welcomed back to the UFC as a late replacement to face Barboza and made the most of it with one of the biggest upsets of the year.

Staff picks: KSNV and ESPN Radio

West: Lauzon

Cofield: Lauzon

Last fight: Lost by first-round knockout to Anthony Pettis at UFC 144.

Punch list: Rank every lightweight in the UFC and Lauzon would fall somewhere right ahead of the middle. It’s not to be ashamed of, but probably frustrating for the six-year UFC veteran. He’s exciting and can beat the majority of 155-pounders on his best day, but finds himself on the wrong end of the highlight reel once every other year or so. See Pettis’ head-kick knockout less than two minutes into their fight in Japan for the best example.

Staff picks: Las Vegas Sun and ESPN.com

Keefer: Lauzon

Brewer: Varner

Okamoto: Varner

DaMarques Johnson

  • Age: 30
  • Height: 6’1''
  • Weight: 170
  • UFC record 4-4
  • MMA record 16-10
  • Out of: Salt Lake City
  • Betting line: +180

Mike Swick

  • Age: 33
  • Height: 6’1''
  • Weight: 170
  • UFC record 9-3
  • MMA record 14-4
  • Out of: San Jose, Calif.
  • Betting line: -220

Welterweight Bout

Main Card Opener

Last fight: Submitted by John Maguire in the second round at UFC on FUEL TV 2.

Punch list: Time is running out for the heavy-handed veteran to live up to the promise some felt he showed on “The Ultimate Fighter” 9. All four of his wins in the octagon have come against opponents who were later cut from the UFC. But at least they were all finishes, as Johnson hasn’t seen a fight go to the judges since 2008.

Staff picks: KSNV and ESPN Radio

West: Swick

Cofield: Swick

Last fight: Submitted by Paulo Thiago in the second round at UFC 109.

Punch list: Johnson is a perfect opponent for Swick to come back to after two-and-a-half years on the mend. If “The Ultimate Fighter” 1 veteran hasn’t fallen off much after all of his injuries, he should cruise against Johnson. Even if Swick lost a step, he should still get a competitive fight. This is a barometer bout for the kickboxer who once found himself one win away from a shot at the welterweight title.

Staff picks: Las Vegas Sun and ESPN.com

Keefer: Swick

Brewer: Johnson

Okamoto: Swick

Nam Phan

  • Age: 29
  • Height: 5’6’’
  • Weight: 145
  • UFC record 1-3
  • MMA record 17-10
  • Out of: Orange County, Calif.
  • Betting line: +120

Cole Miller

  • Age: 28
  • Height: 6’1’’
  • Weight: 145
  • UFC record 7-4
  • MMA record 18-6
  • Out of: Boca Raton, Fla.
  • Betting line: -150

Featherweight Bout

FUEL TV Prelim

Last fight: Unanimous-decision defeat against Jimmy Hettes at UFC 141.

Punch list: Expect Phan to come out firing, for if he loses this fight it’s likely his last in the UFC. Wild striking exchanges have defined his time in the UFC and it would be wise to continue that in Los Angeles. Stylistically, Phan should want to keep the fight on the feet against a submission artist like Miller.

Staff picks: KSNV and ESPN Radio

West: Miller

Cofield: Phan

Last fight: Lost to Steven Siler by unanimous decision at UFC on FX 2.

Punch list: After a stunning loss to a newcomer like Siler, it’s worth wondering whether Miller really needed to drop to featherweight. Miller had carved his niche as a solid, but unspectacular, lightweight before he decided to cut the 10 extra pounds. Five of his seven wins at 155 pounds came by submission, undoubtedly what he will look for against Phan.

Staff picks: Las Vegas Sun and ESPN.com

Keefer: Miller

Brewer: Miller

Okamoto: Miller

Wagner Prado

  • Age: 25
  • Height: 6’4’’
  • Weight: 205
  • UFC record 0-0
  • MMA record 6-0
  • Out of: Campinas, Brazil
  • Betting line: +400

Phil Davis

  • Age: 27
  • Height: 6’2’’
  • Weight: 205
  • UFC record 5-1
  • MMA record 9-1
  • Out of: San Diego
  • Betting line: -600

Light Heavyweight Bout

FUEL TV Prelim

Last fight: Knocked out Aldo Sultao in the first round at Max Fight 13.

Punch list: Is Prado in over his head for his UFC debut? His perfect record would indicate he’s not. His level of competition and the betting odds say otherwise. He could surprisingly give Davis some trouble if he can turn the bout into a boxing match, as Prado should have a striking advantage with seven career knockouts.

Staff picks: KSNV and ESPN Radio

West: Prado

Cofield: Davis

Last fight: Unanimous-decision loss to Rashad Evans at UFC on FOX 2.

Punch list: Two FOX cards ago, Davis was at the top of the event fighting Evans for the No. 1 contender slot. An uninspired, and all-around boring, performance has dropped the former Penn State national championship wrestler all the way to the undercard. If Davis could string together a few wins, he’s still one of the most intriguing potential opponents for light heavyweight champion Jon Jones.

Staff picks: Las Vegas Sun and ESPN.com

Keefer: Davis

Brewer: Davis

Okamoto: Davis

Rani Yahya

  • Age: 27
  • Height: 5’6’’
  • Weight: 145
  • UFC record 1-1
  • MMA record 16-6
  • Out of: Brasilia, Brazil
  • Betting line: +150

Josh Grispi

  • Age: 23
  • Height: 5’11’’
  • Weight: 145
  • UFC record 0-2
  • MMA record 14-3
  • Out of: Rockland, Mass.
  • Betting line: -180

Featherweight Bout

FUEL TV Prelim

Last fight: Lost to Chad Mendes by unanimous decision at UFC 133.

Punch list: A year has passed since Yahya last appeared in the octagon. Injuries have kept the former ANCC Submission Wrestling world champion away, but he’s back for now. A victory is the only way Yahya could notch some job security, as he’s 1-3 in his last four fights.

Staff picks: KSNV and ESPN Radio

West: Grispi

Cofield: Grispi

Last fight: Third-round knockout loss to George Roop at “The Ultimate Fighter” 13 finale.

Punch list: A year-and-a-half has passed since Grispi last appeared in the octagon. A stunning two-fight losing streak preceded some serious personal problems for the man who was once slated to fight Jose Aldo as the 145-pound division’s top contender. Instead of being at the top where he once was, Grispi finds himself near the bottom of the featherweight ranks and in desperate need of a win.

Staff picks: Las Vegas Sun and ESPN.com

Keefer: Yahya

Brewer: Yahya

Okamoto: Yahya

Oli Thompson

  • Age: 32
  • Height: 6’1’’
  • Weight: 242
  • UFC record 0-1
  • MMA record 9-3
  • Out of: Hastings, England
  • Betting line: +170

Phil De Fries

  • Age: 26
  • Height: 6’5’’
  • Weight: 241
  • UFC record 1-1
  • MMA record 8-1
  • Out of: Sunderland, England
  • Betting line: -220

Heavyweight Bout

FUEL TV Prelim

Last fight: Second-round TKO loss to Shawn Jordan at UFC on FX 2.

Punch list: He was previously crowned Great Britain’s Strongest Man and competed in the World’s Strongest Man competition. Thompson is yet to make as much of an impact in mixed martial arts. Strength doesn’t necessarily translate to striking power, as he’s only recorded three knockout victories.

Staff picks: KSNV and ESPN Radio

West: De Fries

Cofield: Thompson

Last fight: First-round knockout loss against Stipe Miocic at UFC on FUEL TV 1.

Punch list: The heavyweight from Southern England is likely out to test his Northern counterpart’s chops on the ground. De Fries’ first seven mixed martial arts victories came by submission. His ability to take a punch, however, is in question after Miocic caught him less than a minut into their bout.

Staff picks: Las Vegas Sun and ESPN.com

Keefer: De Fries

Brewer: De Fries

Okamoto: De Fries

Michihiro Omigawa

  • Age: 36
  • Height: 5’6”
  • Weight: 143
  • UFC record 1-5
  • MMA record 13-11
  • Out of: Tokyo
  • Betting line: +140

Manvel Gamburyan

  • Age: 27
  • Height: 5’5’’
  • Weight: 145
  • UFC record 2-5
  • MMA record 13-8
  • Out of: Hollywood, Calif.
  • Betting line: -170

Featherweight Bout

FUEL TV Prelim

Last fight: Unanimous-decision loss to Yuri Alcantara at UFC 142.

Punch list: Somehow, like a pesky fly at a picnic, Omigawa continues to hang around the UFC. Many fighters would get released from their contract after losing as much as the Judoka. But Omigawa is an entertaining fighter to watch and has beaten a who’s who list of the 135-pound division outside of the UFC.

Staff picks: KSNV and ESPN Radio

West: Omigawa

Cofield: Gamburyan

Last fight: Lost to Diego Nunes via unanimous decision at UFC 141.

Punch list: Gamburyan has never been able to find his stride in the UFC. He’s gone 7-1 over the last eight years in other promotions, facing comparable opposition, but hasn’t looked the same in the octagon. A loss to Omigawa would mark his fourth straight and assuredly lead to his release.

Staff picks: Las Vegas Sun and ESPN.com

Keefer: Omigawa

Brewer: Omigawa

Okamoto: Gamburyan

Ulysses Gomez

  • Age: 29
  • Height: 5’6’’
  • Weight: 125
  • UFC record 0-0
  • MMA record 9-2
  • Out of: Las Vegas
  • Betting line: -180

John Moraga

  • Age: 28
  • Height: 5’6’’
  • Weight: 125
  • UFC record 0-0
  • MMA record 10-1
  • Out of: Phoenix
  • Betting line: +150

Flyweight Bout

FUEL TV Prelim

Last fight: Submitted by Cody Gibson in the third round at Tachi Palace Fights 11.

Punch list: The local fighter was a late addition to the card after an injury forced Ian McCall out. “Useless” captured the flyweight championship in Tachi Palace Fights — the top organization for 125-pound fighters before the UFC implemented the weight class in March — in 2010, but failed to defend the belt. With the UFC’s flyweight division still shallow, a couple wins could put Gomez in position to challenge for the belt.

Staff picks: KSNV and ESPN Radio

West: Gomez

Cofield: Moraga

Last fight: Unanimous-decision victory over Maurice Senters at Rage In The Cage 160.

Punch list: The UFC continues to bulk up its new 125-pound division with two new fighters in this bout. Gomez is more established, but Moraga is every bit as dangerous. He trains with a world-class team headed by UFC lightweight champion Ben Henderson. Moraga’s only loss came to “The Ultimate Fighter” 14 champion John Dodson by unanimous decision.

Staff picks: Las Vegas Sun and ESPN.com

Keefer: Gomez

Brewer: Gomez

Okamoto: Moraga

Case Keefer can be reached at 948-2790 or ca[email protected]. Follow Case on Twitter at twitter.com/casekeefer.

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