Big prize for Machida

Lyoto Machida puts the finishing touches on his win over Ryan Bader after knocking him out in the...

Lyoto Machida puts the finishing touches on his win over Ryan Bader after knocking him out in the second round during the UFC on FOX 4 event at the Staples Center in Los Angeles last night. Machida's impressive one-punch victory has earned him a shot at the light-heavyweight title.

NEIL SPRINGER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:48 PM ET

Mauricio (Shogun) Rua may have knocked out Brandon Vera in the main event of UFC on FOX 4 in Los Angeles on Saturday, but it will be Lyoto Machida who gets the next light-heavyweight title shot.

Surprisingly, Rua wasted no time taking the bout to the mat and worked for submissions. After defending a guillotine-choke attempt from Vera, Rua took back control and delivered strikes as the first round ended.

Rua hurt Vera with punches in the second, but appeared to gas himself out trying to finish. This allowed Vera to come back and deliver hard punches and elbows. With less than two minutes left, Vera took down an exhausted Rua to end the frame on top.

Rua bounced back in the third, hurting Vera with a knee and controlling the action against the cage. Rua later tripped Vera to the floor and worked his ground-and-pound to win the stanza.

Both men showed a ton of heart in the fourth, but it was Rua who hurt Vera with a flurry of hard punches against the cage. Rua then pounced with ground-and-pound to secure the TKO victory.

“I’m very happy to win this fight,” Rua said.

“Brandon is a very tough fighter. I didn’t give my best, but I will improve and give my best in the future.”

Prior to Saturday’s fights, UFC president Dana White announced the most impressive victory between the evening’s main and co-main events would receive a shot at the winner of September’s light-heavyweight title fight between Jon Jones and Dan Henderson.

Though Rua finished Vera, Machida stole the show, delivering a slick one-punch knockout victory over Ryan Bader in the co-main event.

Machida immediately frustrated Bader with his footwork and range. When Bader stuck on the outside, the former light-heavyweight champion tagged his body and legs with kicks. Conversely, any time he came forward to close the distance, he ate punches, knees and elbows on the way in.

In the second round, Bader sealed his own fate, charging forward blindly straight into a nasty right hand.

“I feel very well. It was a great performance,” Machida said. “I want to say: The Dragon is back!”

Prior to his win over Bader, Machida was submitted by current champion Jones at UFC 140 in Toronto last December.

Joe Lauzon submitted Jamie Varner in a thrilling fight-of-the-year candidate.

Varner took the early advantage, utilizing crisp boxing to punish Lauzon’s body. As Varner began to slow, Lauzon picked up the pace, landing hard punches to the head. But Varner immediately regained the momentum after dropping Lauzon with a straight right.

Lauzon took over in the second, hurting Varner with punches and securing back control. Lauzon frantically worked for submissions, but couldn’t put the former WEC lightweight champion away.

Was swept

In the third round, Varner shot for a double-leg takedown, but was immediately swept. As Varner exploded to scramble into Lauzon’s guard, he left himself open for a triangle choke. Lauzon then made some small adjustments to sink the hold in deeper and Varner had no choice but to tap out.

After a 30-month hiatus from MMA, Mike Swick scored a stunning second-round knockout victory over DaMarques Johnson in his return bout.

“Hey guys, remember me?” an emotional Swick said to the crowd. “Because I remember all of you.”

The two exchanged heavy leather in the first round, with Swick getting the better of the standup exchanges. But near the midway point of the round, Johnson took him to the mat and unloaded with ground-and-pound. Johnson came close to securing a d’arce choke, but Swick managed to retain full guard as the frame came to a close.

In the second, Swick caught a low-kick attempt, tripping Johnson to the mat and delivering a vicious overhand right for the KO win.

“I had to take what I could get,” Swick said. “He came out a lot harder than I thought he would.”

The final preliminary bout saw Nam Phan edge Cole Miller in an exciting standup battle, winning a split decision with scores of 29-28, 28-29 and 29-28.

It was a disappointing debut for undefeated Brazilian Wagner Prado, who went to a no contest with Phil Davis after suffering an unintentional eye poke from the NCAA Division I wrestler.

Rani Yahya made quick work of Josh Grispi, putting the struggling featherweight away with a north-south choke in the first round.

While competing in the WEC, Grispi was considered one of the promotion’s hottest prospects. However, since the roster was absorbed into the UFC, he has now lost three straight fights.

Phil De Fries picked up his second UFC victory, submitting Oli Thompson with a rear-naked choke in the second round.

Manny Gamburyan snapped a three-fight skid, winning a hard-fought unanimous decision over fellow judoka Michihiro Omigawa.

The opening bout saw John Moraga completely dismantle Ulysses Gomez en route to a first-round KO in a battle of debuting flyweights.

 


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