Recent history says Brandon Vera does not have much of a chance against Mauricio Rua. The vast majority of players in Sherdog.com’s MMA Pick’Em fantasy game agree, as 93 percent like the former UFC light heavyweight king to defeat Vera in the UFC on Fox 4 main event on Saturday at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.
Once one of the most highly regarded talents in the sport, Vera has stagnated in recent years. A former heavyweight, “The Truth” has posted a 4-3 mark, with one no contest, since moving to 205 pounds. In his last outing, Vera defeated Eliot Marshall via unanimous decision at UFC 137.
Rua is coming off a five-round war with Dan Henderson at UFC 139 that was one of the best fights of 2011. Prior to that bout, the Brazilian earned a first-round knockout victory over Forrest Griffin at UFC 134. “Shogun” had a brief reign as UFC light heavyweight champion, knocking out Lyoto Machida to win the belt at UFC 113 before relinquishing it to Jon Jones at UFC 128.
If they are impressive enough in victory, either Lyoto Machida or Ryan Bader could earn a shot at Jones’ title. Pick’Em users believe in the Machida mystique, as 85 percent have chosen “The Dragon” over the Power MMA Team representative.
Machida fell short against Jones at UFC 140, causing the champion problems for a round before succumbing to a choke in the second frame. Machida’s only other bout in 2011 came at UFC 129, where he knocked out Randy Couture with a highlight-reel front kick.
Bader has rebounded nicely from his upset loss to Tito Ortiz at UFC 132, posting wins against Jason Brilz and Quinton Jackson in his last two outings. The former Arizona State University wrestler also owns notable triumphs over Antonio Rogerio Nogueira and Keith Jardine during his Octagon tenure.
Other Sherdog MMA Pick’Em trends for UFC on Fox 4:
• A solid 58 percent of participants favor Joe Lauzon in his lightweight clash against Jamie Varner. After upsetting Melvin Guillard in October, “J-Lau” was felled by an Anthony Pettis head kick at UFC 144. Varner made a triumphant return to the UFC in May, stopping top prospect Edson Barboza with punches in the first round at UFC 146;
• Despite an extended layoff, 84 percent of players have picked Mike Swick to defeat DaMarques Johnson in a welterweight tilt. The American Kickboxing Academy product brings a two-fight losing streak to the cage, having fallen to Dan Hardy and Paulo Thiago in his last two outings. Johnson has experienced mixed results in the promotion. Most recently, he was submitted by John Maguire in the second round at UFC on Fuel TV 2 in April;
• In preliminary bouts, users favor Cole Miller (64 percent) over Nam Phan, Phil Davis (95 percent) over Wagner Prado, Josh Grispi (72 percent) over Rani Yahya, Philip De Fries (90 percent) over Oli Thompson, Manny Gamburyan (76 percent) over Michihiro Omigawa and Ulysses Gomez (84 percent) over John Moraga.