First, the quote that lead to the ensuing train of thought:
“When the fans speak, we listen," UFC president Dana White said in a statement. "So whoever scores the best win, whoever gets the fans excited by going out there on Saturday and looking the most impressive, he will get the winner of Jones vs. Henderson. It is down to what these four guys do Saturday night in the Octagon. Winning isn’t enough, they’ve got to win impressively. Any one of these four fighters can take things into their own hands and make a title shot happen.”
White is saying this week that whichever of those four light heavyweights has the best performance will get a shot at the title held by Jon Jones, who just so happens to fight Dan Henderson at UFC 151 on Sept. 1. In the past 18 months, Jones has beaten Bader, Rua and Machida. Convincingly. No one has been clamoring for a rematch. And if you extend that another year back -- to March 21, 2010 -- Jones knocked out Vera in the first round.
(Should Henderson beat Jones, then there are some interesting pairings, such as a Henderson-Rua rematch from UFC 139.)
But pay close attention to what is being said here by White. "Winning isn't enough." So if both fights are clunkers, then it's easy to back away from the proclamation if fans take to Twitter and react negatively to the possible matchups. After all, isn't that what happened first here, anyway?
Bader is 2-1 since losing to Jones. Rua is 1-1 since losing to Jones. This will be Machida's first fight since losing to Jones. Vera is 1-0 since losing to Jones, but had a loss to Thiago Silva overturned because of Silva's positive drug test.
By no means has Jones cleaned out the 205-pound division yet. Alexander Gustafsson is out there -- but he should probably fight one of the four light heavyweights at UFC on Fox 4 first. Plus, Chael Sonnen is rumored to be considering a move up from middleweight.