Mauricio “Shogun” Rua, a former UFC® and PRIDE® champion, is a mixed martial arts legend looking to launch a title run anew. Brandon “The Truth” Vera, once on the fast track to UFC stardom, seeks to redeem and rebuild a career that once seemed unstoppable. This summer, these two warriors meet in a light heavyweight main event on FOX, both hoping to re-establish their careers and find the road to future glory. Their stories and more are featured in UFC’S ROAD TO THE OCTAGON, two one-hour preview specials presented by FOX Sports that set the stage for the August and December UFC on FOX events.
The first UFC’S ROAD TO THE OCTAGON special airs Sunday, July 29 (2:00-3:00 PM ET) and features an in-depth look at Rua, Vera and fighters on UFC on FOX’s main card Saturday, Aug. 4 (8:00-10:00 PM ET) live and in prime time from Staples Center in Los Angeles. The second special, which focuses on the fighters battling in the Saturday, Dec. 8 prime time UFC on FOX event, airs Sunday, Dec. 2 opposite local NFL on FOX singleheader coverage (3:00-4:00 PM ET or 4:30-5:30 PM ET).
A former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion and PRIDE Grand Prix 2005 champion, Rua is a true legend in the sport of mixed martial arts. He owns wins over some of the sport’s most elite names, including Chuck Liddell, Rampage Jackson, Alistair Overeem and Forrest Griffin. Rua developed his fighting skills at the famed Chute Boxe Academy in Brazil, and has developed a reputation as a menacing finisher and relentless pursuer of the knockout. A mainstay in the sport for a decade, the 30-year-old believes his next run at the title starts by knocking off the talented and dangerous Vera.
Vera steps inside the Octagon with one of the most interesting stories among all UFC fighters. After launching his UFC career in 2005 as a heavyweight and winning his first four fights, he was on the fast-track to becoming one of the sport’s biggest stars. He was a feared knockout artist with an incredible skill set. However, his initial success led him to hold-out from UFC in 2006-07 while seeking a more lucrative contract. Vera stumbled in two heavyweight bouts upon his return, but rebounded with a light heavyweight win in July 2008 which set up a fight with then-UFC star Keith Jardine in UFC 89. A win would have solidified his comeback, but just two weeks before his wife, trainer and trainer’s son were victim of a home invasion where they were held at gunpoint. While no one was hurt, Vera, traumatized and unable to focus, lost to Jardine in lackluster fashion. He struggled to regain his confidence and contemplated walking away completely until he rediscovered his passion during a long cross-country trip in 2011, stopping in MMA gyms along the way. As he stares down the biggest fight of his career against former champ Rua, Vera has a chance to fulfill the promise of his youth.
Three knockout matchups leading up to the main event ensure the atmosphere in the Staples Center will be rocking.
Terry Etim vs. Joe Lauzon (Lightweight)
Four Submission of the Night awards don the UFC record of Liverpool’s Terry Etim, a testament to his status as one of the most exciting 155-pound fighters in the world. Now, he looks to follow in the footsteps of British boxing legends Ricky Hatton and David Haye in hopes of becoming England’s brightest combat sports star.
It’s hard to find a fighter more entertaining than Joe Lauzon and the numbers don’t lie. In 12 UFC appearances, the 28-year-old has scored Submission of the Night bonuses five times, Fight of the Night three times, and KO of the Night once. His incredible performances in UFC haven’t only shocked fans, they’ve shocked Lauzon himself. Holding a bachelor’s degree in computer science from Wentworth Institute of Technology, he figured he’d be punching keys, not opponents, for a living. A self-described “computer nerd,” Lauzon has built a cult-like following thanks to his progressive approach to social media, as he’s no stranger to doing spontaneous live chats and interactions with fans via the Internet.
Ben Rothwell vs. Travis Browne (Heavyweight)
Built like an NFL offensive lineman, Wisconsin’s Ben Rothwell (6’4”, 265-pounds) is a veteran of 40 fights at the tender age of 30. A proven finisher, he looks to stuff the rise of Travis Browne. Taking a fight against a rising star is far from the toughest thing Rothwell has had to face in his life though. At the age of 6, Rothwell contracted spinal meningitis, which left him in a coma, temporarily blind and made it difficult for him to control his body weight for years. He found fighting in his teens as a way to get in shape and instantly fell in love with the sport. Success soon followed and Rothwell has developed a reputation as a gritty mauler inside the Octagon. Having fought four former UFC champions (Velasquez, Arlovski, Sylvia and Rodriguez), Rothwell could put Browne’s championship aspirations in serious jeopardy.
Browne, however, looks to continue his climb and fulfill the proclamations of several high-profiled coaches and training partners who have called him the next UFC Heavyweight Champion. A proud native of Honolulu, Browne carries the flag for his home state of Hawaii. The 29-year-old knows the people of “The Aloha State” are counting on him to continue the legacy set forth by former UFC champion and Hawaii’s own, BJ Penn. A father of two young boys, Kaleo and Keawe, Browne realizes the opportunity on Aug. 4 could inspire Hawaiians and propel him toward a chance to bring a UFC title back to his home state.
Ryan Bader vs. Lyoto Machida (Light Heavyweight)
Ryan Bader is a powerful, heavy-handed wrestler and is easily one of the UFC’s rising stars. He is a two-time NCAA Division I All-American and won Season 8 of the Ultimate Fighter. His wrestling pedigree, which was honed at Arizona State University, has propelled him to instant success in the UFC, while his feared right hand has opponents weary of his knockout power. Known for his supreme conditioning and physique, Bader, 28, often trains with NFL star Jared Allen and NBA star Mike Miller. In his last fight, he defeated former champion Quinton “Rampage” Jackson. Now he looks to take out another former champ on the path to his first title shot.
Former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Lyoto Machida is a pure example of a modern-day Bruce Lee. A black belt in Shotokan Karate and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, “The Dragon” embodies the true warrior spirit exemplified by past and present martial artists. Boasting one of the most unorthodox styles in the history of MMA, Machida, 34, comes from a long history of martial artists, as his father, Yoshizo, is a karate master. Much like the late Lee, Machida carries a relaxed, captivating confidence about him that only further cements his status a true martial artist. Machida scored one of the greatest knockouts in UFC history against Rashad Evans to become the UFC Light Heavyweight Champion. Machida is on a mission to get his title back
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