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UFC on FOX 4 main event no longer a title eliminator

Dana White reverses course on stakes of Shogun vs. Vera fight after negative fan reaction

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Justin M. Bowen

Ryan Bader gets a drink in between rounds during his light heavyweight bout against Jon Jones at UFC 126 Saturday, February 5, 2011 at Mandalay Bay Events Center. Jones won by submission.

The UFC prides itself on booking the bouts fans want to see.

Or, in this case, preventing a fight that no one wants to see. The UFC on FOX 4 main event between Mauricio “Shogun” Rua and Brandon Vera Saturday in Los Angeles will no longer determine the top light heavyweight contender, according to a press release issued by Dana White on Tuesday morning.

The UFC president couldn’t ignore the outcry following yesterday’s announcement that Shogun vs. Vera was a title eliminator. Shogun, Vera or the winner of this weekend’s co-main event between Lyoto Machida and Ryan Bader will now become the top contender to the belt currently held by Jon Jones.

“It is down to what these four guys do Saturday night in the octagon,” White said. “Winning isn’t enough; they’ve got to win impressively. Any one of these four fighters can take things into their own hands and make a title shot happen.”

Jones has beaten, and finished, each of the four potential opponents, so it’s not a perfect arrangement. But it’s an upgrade from the possibility of getting stuck with an automatic top contender like Vera, who wouldn't even be in the UFC if a loss against Thiago Silva wasn’t overturned to a no contest.

Rematches against Rua, Machida or Bader are more marketable.

“The loss to Jones, I can’t live with,” Rua said. “I could have done so much better and I want to fight him again.”

Jones wrecked Rua with a third-round TKO at UFC 128, but the Brazilian has longed for another shot ever since and stated injuries kept him from his best. Machida and Bader were slightly more competitive with Jones.

Bader took no significant damage but mounted little offense and succumbed to a guillotine choke in the second round against Jones. Machida met the same fate, but only after finding his range in the first round and winning it on many media members’ scorecards.

Someone is going to get a rematch.

“When the fans speak, we listen,” White said. “So whoever scores the best win, whoever gets the fans excited by going out there on Saturday and looking the most impressive, he will get the winner of Jones vs. Henderson.

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

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