The stakes for the main event of UFC on Fox 4 just got a little higher.
When Mauricio Rua and Brandon Vera square off Saturday night at Staples Center in Los Angeles, a shot at the UFC light heavyweight title will be on the line. UFC President Dana White confirmed Monday during a media conference call that the winner of the scheduled five-round affair will challenge for the 205-pound belt.
Despite the bout’s headlining status, the news comes as something of a surprise, since both men have suffered decisive losses to reigning champion Jon Jones in the past two years. Rua is 1-1 since his March 2011 run-in with “Bones,” while Vera is 1-0, after a decision loss to Thiago Silva was overturned to a no-contest. Moreover, the light heavyweights are a combined 4-5 (1 NC) in their last 10 starts.
Vera secured his first win since 2009 last fall with a grinding unanimous decision over Eliot Marshall. Rua enters Saturday’s bout looking to rebound from a razor-thin, five-round November loss to former Pride and Strikeforce titleholder Dan Henderson.
A win Saturday could potentially set up Rua for a rematch with Henderson, who will challenge Jones for the title Sept. 1 at UFC 151 in Denver.