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Four huge questions going into UFC on FOX 4: Shogun vs. Vera

Former UFC light heavyweight champion Mauricio "Shogun" Rua

The UFC will give its fourth offering on FOX this Saturday night, headlined by the light heavyweight fight between former champion Mauricio “Shogun” Rua and Brandon “The Truth” Vera.

The co-main event will feature another former champion in Lyoto Machida as he’ll be taking on former TUF winner Ryan Bader. There are many storylines going into this event with some bigger than others. However, I want to take a look at four storylines that I feel are worth taking a look at. Let’s get to it.

Will UFC on FOX 4 best the 2.42 average rating in viewership mark set by UFC on FOX 3?

UFC on FOX 3 is the lowest rated UFC event to air on FOX. In fact, each UFC event on FOX has experienced a drop in viewership from the initial offering in November. The numbers look like this:

  • UFC on FOX 1-5.7 million average
  • UFC on FOX 2-4.7 million average
  • UFC on FOX 3-2.42 million average

UFC on FOX 4 has more name recognition on the card than UFC on FOX 3, but it will be competing with the Olympics for viewers. I haven’t seen much advertising at all for the fourth installment, but they did feature a “Road to the Octagon” on Sunday afternoon. I have to think it’ll best the 2.42 average set for UFC on FOX 3, and if it doesn’t the UFC could find themselves putting title fights back on FOX again.

Will Jamie Varner continue his career resurrection with a win over Joe Lauzon?

Jamie Varner scored a huge upset win over Edson Barboza at UFC 146, taking the fight on short notice to score a first round TKO win. He’s fighting on short notice again after agreeing to replace Evan Dunham on the card to fight Joe Lauzon. Varner is a former WEC lightweight champion and lost his title to the now current UFC lightweight champion Ben Henderson in January 2010. He has a lot of tools and could be a factor in the lightweight division provided he stays on point mentally. He’ll be fighting a scrappy guy in Lauzon but it’s certainly a winnable fight for Varner. Do you think he’s still basking in the glory of his upset win, or will he come to make a statement on Saturday night?

How will Mike Swick look after being out of the game for two years?

Mike Swick hasn’t fought since losing to Paulo Thiago at UFC 109. That’s so long ago that Paulo Thiago was a top ten welterweight at the time and is now (1-3) in his last four fights in the UFC. Swick has battled all types of things from injuries to a mis-diagnosis of a stomach ailment over the past two years. He’ll be taking on DeMarques Johnson on Saturday night who is (2-3) in his last five fights. Swick’s game has usually been based on quickness and striking, but he is versed in submissions as well. Johnson’s game is based more so on grappling. If Swick is able to keep the fight standing he should be OK. However, it’ll be interesting to see if cage rust is a factor as he attempts to revive his career.

Can Josh Grispi avoid his third consecutive loss as he takes on Rani Yahya?

Josh Grispi was on the cusp of a title shot at UFC 125 as he was set to take on Jose Aldo, but Aldo was forced to pull out of the bout with an injury. Grispi chose to fight someone else instead of waiting for the title shot and went on to lose back to back fights to Dustin Poirier and George Roop. Grispi is still only 23-years-old and still has a ton of time to right the ship on his career. The UFC featherweight division is still relatively thin and Grispi can put himself back into contention with a few wins. He’ll be facing a one dimensional grappler (admittedly a great grappler) in Rani Yahya. It’s been over a year since Grispi’s last fight as he has been battling injuries. I wonder if he can regain the form that saw him rattle off four consecutive wins with all of them coming via stoppages in the WEC?

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