Dana White was presented what sounded like a doomsday scenario: The winners of the two fights atop the UFC on FOX: Shogun vs. Vera card on Saturday take care of business impressively.
“That’d be the best-case scenario,” the UFC president told reporters at a news conference Thursday.
Controversy, at least of this ilk, is good for business. White stirred some already this week when he proclaimed the main event at Staples Center between Mauricio “Shogun” Rua, and Brandon Vera would become the top contender in the light-heavyweight division. After some public outcry, White soon backtracked and added that the status actually would go to the top performer between the top two fights on the card, which also includes Lyoto Machida vs. Ryan Bader.
“The winner is getting the title shot,” White said.
It doesn’t seem as if White’s change of heart has altered any of the fighters’ approaches.
“I don’t know what makes you guys think that we weren’t taking this fight seriously before and that we weren’t going to try to knock the person out across the Octagon from us,” Vera said. “I can’t speak for everyone else, but for me, that is after the fact. That’s a bonus. Let us go out there that evening and do our job (and) beat the hell out of each other. You sit there and enjoy it and then we’ll worry about what happens after.”
Added Machida: “It hasn’t changed my (mind-set). I keep my focus on Saturday.”
White has added incentives over the years to entice more action, most notably fight of the night and submission of the night bonuses. But this current enticement brings more than a few thousand dollars — it puts the victor in line to fight either current champ Jon Jones or Dan Henderson, who will face each other at UFC 151 on Sept. 1.
“It changes nothing,” Bader said. “It’s is in the back of your mind, but I’m going to go out there and try to win the most impressive way I can regardless.”
If Jones wins at UFC 151, he will defend his belt against a fighter he has already beaten. Vera (TKO), Bader (submission), Rua (TKO) and Machida (submission) each has lost to Jones already. White sloughed off that possibility that Jones wouldn’t face a challenge in a rematch.
“There are lots of guys in the light-heavyweight division,” White said. “People forget that really quick, then another show like what we have on Saturday. Somebody will be buzzing.”
If nothing else, one of the four will get a title shot.