Five Questions For UFC on Fox 4 (Shogun Rua vs. Brandon Vera)

Going into this weekend’s UFC on Fox card there are any number of storylines surrounding the card. From Jon Jones’s potential next challenger coming out of a pool of talent that he’s already defeated to Jamie Varner’s comeback from the ashes of the finale of his WEC run, plenty of questions will hopefully get answered after Saturday’s fight card. Coming off a main card at UFC 149 that may have been one of the worst cards in history the UFC has a lot of redemption to accomplish for many fans.

What questions will be answered by this UFC on FOX card? Five come to mind.

1. Can the UFC come up with a killer card that makes up for a main card in Calgary?

If you paid for UFC 149 there’s sufficient cause to want to get your money back. After a killer undercard, the main card failed to deliver in every way possible once Matt Riddle won via arm triangle over Canada’s own Chris Clements. You had to feel bad for Renan Barao and Urijah Faber, who had a fairly solid five round fight that Calgary fans didn’t have any sort of stomach for after the fights that came before it. If the UFC is going to try and make it up to everyone involved, a first rate card on network television is a good start.

2. Is Brandon Vera finally ready to become an elite fighter?

Every time he steps up to fight Brandon Vera talks the same game: either he’s returned to being the “old” version of himself or some newer version that somehow is going to win. And somehow we tend to think so but the fact remains that outside of a borderline decision loss to Randy Couture the man who once told us he’d hold championships in both the light heavyweight and heavyweight divisions just hasn’t looked like a fighter who deserves to be in the UFC’s elite for a long time. It’s almost as easy to argue that Vera doesn’t belong in the UFC, period, and in front of him lies what he’s properly gauged as a “golden ticket.” If Brandon Vera is going to become that elite fighter that’s been promised this is it.

3. Is Jamie Varner, UFC title contender, rising from the ashes of a disastrous losing streak in the WEC?

Losing three of his final four fights in the WEC, including two by submission with a draw in there, Varner was on the outside looking in as the WEC folded into the UFC. Varner in early 2009 could’ve made a case as one of the top lightweights in the world. Varner in 2011 was fighting on the regional scene, a man with a great name and resume but struggling to get back to the big leagues. And then, on short notice, he got called back up to face one of the best lightweight prospects in the UFC in Edson Barboza. Brought in for what seemed like an easy victory for Barboza to propel him up the ranks, Varner shocked everyone (and maybe himself) but dismantling the Brazilian in short and spectacular fashion. This was the Varner that made pundits think he was potentially an elite fighter in the division. And now one thing remains.

Is this for real?

That’s what his scrap with Joe Lauzon means Saturday night. If he can win again against a game opponent like Lauzon then perhaps the man we remembered in the WEC is back.

4. Can Vera, Ryan Bader, Shogun Rua or Lyoto Machida make a case for another shot at the champion?

Brandon Vera’s loss to Jon Jones signaled that “Bones” was for real. Jones tapped out Bader in making a statement that he was ready for a title shot. Six weeks after Bader tapped … Rua tapped to strikes. Machida fell to the canvas after passing out in a guillotine choke by the current champion in a moment turned into a hype video for Jones later on. It’s not like Jones took close decisions or won in some controversial fashion; Jon Jones’s tour of destruction has all four of these men on it as highlight reel finishes.

Can any of them show something on the main card that justifies a title shot?

A rematch between any of these two and Jon Jones, should he defeat Dan Henderson later this year, would be hard to justify unless one of these four men wins in something that makes you think that a rematch would go differently. Someone has to win in such spectacular fashion that a title fight makes sense; anything else feels like another dismantling waiting to arrive.

5. How much does Mike Swick have left in him?

Mike Swick hasn’t fought in over two and a half years for a lot of reasons; when he left he was still a guy you could consider a top 10 welterweight. The world has changed radically in his absence and whether or not he has anything left in a fairly stellar career, whether he can climb the mountain again and be in the title mix again, is going to be answered Saturday night.

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