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UFC on FOX to decide top contender

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Alex Marvez

Alex Marvez is a Senior NFL Writer for FOXSports.com. He has covered the NFL for the past 18 seasons as a beat writer and is the former president of the Pro Football Writers of America. He also is a frequent host on Sirius XM NFL Radio.

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Thanks to a matchmaking twist, the upcoming "UFC on FOX: Shogun vs. Vera" will have even higher stakes for the light heavyweights involved.

THEY'RE KNOCKOUTS

It's hard not to fall hard for the UFC Octagon Girls.

The next title shot at the division’s championship will be determined by the outcome — and quality  of fights on the card, which will air live at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT Aug. 4 on FOX from the Staples Center in Los Angeles.

Mauricio “Shogun” Rua will likely become the No. 1 contender if he defeats Brandon Vera in the show’s main event. But if he loses or is unimpressive in victory, the winner of the Lyoto Machida vs. Ryan Bader match on the undercard could get the nod depending on the quality of their performance compared to Rua’s.

The ultimate decision will be made by UFC president Dana White and matchmaker Joe Silva.

The title shot will come against the winner of the Jon Jones vs. Dan Henderson bout that is the main event of the UFC 151 pay-per-view show Sept. 1 emanating from Las Vegas.

“These fighters have a huge opportunity to show the world why they deserve to fight for the UFC title next,” White told FOX Sports in an email statement. “Winning isn’t enough at UFC on FOX. This division is so competitive these fighters have to look great to separate themselves from the pack.

“I’m expecting all of these guys to go all-out to prove why they should be next in line for a title shot.”

Jones, the defending champion, has scored victories over Rua, Machida and Bader en route to posting a 16-1 career record. Jones defeated Rua via TKO to win the crown in March 2011. He has since posted consecutive wins over three of the division’s biggest names – Machida, Quinton Jackson and, most recently, Rashad Evans in April.

Of the group of potential title contenders, Henderson has faced only one of them. He defeated Rua via five-round unanimous decision last November, putting him in line for the shot at Jones at UFC 151. Henderson also is on a four-fight winning streak that includes a TKO victory over MMA icon Fedor Emelianenko in July 2011 for UFC’s sister promotion Strikeforce.

The stipulations to the UFC on FOX 4 show cool any talk of an imminent matchup between Jones and UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva. Along with UFC welterweight kingpin Georges St-Pierre, Jones and Silva are considered the best UFC fighters.

Once regarded as one of the UFC’s most promising young fighters, Vera is trying to work his way back into title contention after a devastating 2010 loss to Jones that left him with a broken cheekbone. Vera is 2-0 since then in UFC fights, with his last win coming via unanimous decision over Eliot Marshall at UFC 137 in October 2011.

Another bout expected to air on the UFC on FOX telecast includes Joe Lauzon vs. Jamie Varner (lightweight). Preliminary matches for the UFC on FOX show will begin airing at 5 p.m. ET/2 p.m. PT on FUEL TV.
 

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