LOS ANGELES, USA // Former Ultimate Fighting Championship light-heavyweight title holder Lyoto Machida will get another chance to reclaim the belt after a stunning knockout of Ryan Bader this morning.
The Brazilian-born karate expert dropped Bader with a powerful right counter punch in the second round of his UFC on FOX 4 qualifier to set up the title contest with the winner of UFC 151's championship fight between Dan Henderson and holder Jon Jones.
UFC president Dana White had challenged Bader and Machida, along with Mauricio Rua and Brandon Vera - with the most impressive winner on the LA-staged fight card being given a chance to face the winner of Henderson v Jones for the belt.
Brazilian veteran Rua, himself a former light heavyweight champion in the UFC, scored a hard-fought fourth round TKO over Vera in the main event of the card, but Machida's perfectly timed punch in his bout impressed White - and the crowd - more.
"I think Machida looked the most impressive tonight," White confirmed after the fight.
"He seems to have this fire inside of him. He wants that title, and he wants a shot at Jon Jones.
"Everything I've seen from this guy in the way that he acts and what he says shows me that he wants this title shot."
Machida had looked more than comfortable in the co-main event fight with Bader, controlling the fight against the former Ultimate Fighter winner with his distinctive kicks and punching.
Bader attempted to land 92 seconds into the second round, diving forward with a right hand which was blocked and countered by the 34-year-old that put him down for the win.
"The Dragon is back," Machinda said of his performance afterward.
Mixed martial arts sensation Jon Jones defends his title on September 1 against former Pride and Strikeforce champion Henderson, with Machida likely to face the winner early in the new year.
Rua scored his gruelling victory over Vera with less than a minute of the fourth round remaining, after connecting with a left hook that staggered the American, before following it up with a flurry of punches and ground strikes which led referee Herb Dean to end the contest.
Afterwards the Brazilian admitted he was not at his best during the fight, revealing: "I was more tired in the second and third rounds than I expected."
Joe Lauzon submitted late substitute Jamie Varner - filling in for injured British fighter Terry Etim - in the fight of the night, eventually scoring a triangle choke half way into the final round following a back and forth bout which saw Lauzon land best submission and best fight bonuses.
And Mike Swick made an impressive return to the UFC after more than two years on the sidelines through injury. The welterweight scored a second-round knockout of DaMarques Johnson, after surviving a mauling in the first round.
Elsewhere on the card Nam Phan scored a split points decision over Cole Miller, Rani Yahya submitted Josh Grispi inside the first round, Phil De Fries earned a second round win via rear naked choke over Oli Thompson and Manny Gamburyan won a judges decision over Michihiro Omigawa. John Moraga defeated Ulysses Gomez, while Wagner Prado's fight against Phil Davis went to a no contest after Prado suffered an accidental eye poke and was unable to continue.
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