Esther Lin, MMA FIghting
When the UFC announced the upcoming UFC on FOX 4 replacement main event, the pairing -- Mauricio "Shogun" Rua vs. Brandon Vera -- was met with a collective groan.
It didn't quite seem to make sense that Rua would be matched up with a fighter who was briefly cut as recently as last year. Now we know why. As UFC president Dana White explained, it was a matchup of necessity after a rejected offer to fight UFC newcomer Glover Teixeira. In fact, according to White, Rua's team was so intent on staying away from the dangerous Teixeira that they were willing to sacrifice his job if necessary.
"He said that he'd actually rather be cut than have to fight him," White said during a UFC on FX 3 post-fight interview with Ariel Helwani. "Dude, nobody wants to fight this guy. We're trying to match the guy up with somebody, but he didn't mind fighting Brandon Vera, so he's fighting Brandon Vera."
After years of visa issues, Teixeira (18-2) just made his octagon debut at UFC 146, steamrolling Kyle Kingsbury in a first-round submission victory. Teixeira has won 16 consecutive fights, with 15 finishes during that time.
Rua (20-6) hasn't fought since his UFC 139 war with Dan Henderson last November, a fight he lost by unanimous decision. White seemed to back off from personally blaming Rua for the decision to turn down the offered bout, instead placing the blame on his management group.
"I don't want to sound like I'm disrespecting Shogun, because I'm not," he said. "I'm just telling the truth. It's verbatim what his people said when we talked to them. You know me. I tell it like it is. If you don't want that out in public, then don't say it to me on the phone, because I'm going to say what was said. Shogun's a warrior. The guy's fought everybody from PRIDE to the UFC. His last fight with Dan Henderson was awesome. It is what it is."
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