Ryan Bader and Lyoto Machida have been added to the list of possible UFC light-heavyweight title contenders.
Not longer after telling a stunned conference call audience that the winner of this Saturday’s fight between Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua and Brandon Vera gets a title shot, UFC president Dana White added Bader and Machida to the mix.
“Whoever wins the most impressively on Saturday night gets the shot at the title,” he said to a reporter from USA Today. He added that the pair were being added to the contention list directly as a result of fan outcry against the earlier announcement.
“I put together the fights that fans want to see. The fans didn't like the Rua and Vera choice, so here it is: The guy that wins most impressively on Saturday night out of the co-main event and the main event will get the shot at the winner of Jon Jones vs. Dan Henderson.”
Jones and Henderson are fighting on September 1 at UFC 151 but if Jones retains the belt - as the odds makers expect he will - then his next challenger will be someone who he has already beaten once before. He beat Vera as he was coming up through the ranks, fought Bader for the chance to get a shot at Shogun, beat Shogun for the belt and then defeated Machida in a recent title defence.
Of the four, Machida is the only one who gave Jones anything like a problem. Bader - now riding a two-fight win streak since the loss to Jones - also says he fancies his chances in a rematch but the fans at large aren’t so sure.
Shogun vs. Vera and Machida vs. Bader takes place this weekend at UFC on FOX 4, live from the Los Angeles Staples Center. Prelims air on FUEL TV in the US.