Opinion: Brandon Vera and the Cold, Hard Truth
By Jesse Heitz
Like many prominent UFC cards, the UFC on FOX: Shogun vs. Vera card, which aired just this past weekend on August 4, 2012, has given us cause to reflect on the future of another of the sport’s mainstay fighters. This time the man in question is Brandon “The Truth” Vera. His decisive loss to Mauricio “Shogun” Rua raises the all-important issue of what trajectory his career will now take.
When “The Truth” burst onto the big-time MMA scene at “Ultimate Fight Night 2,” he made quick and devastating work of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt Fabiano Scherner, finishing his foe in the second round with vicious knees. Vera’s star was officially on the rise.
Vera continued his rise through the UFC heavyweight division with a convincing knockout win over the late and always tough, Justin Eilers at UFC 57 on February 4, 2006. Three months later at UFC 60 in late May of 2006, Vera showcased his submission skills by forcing Assuerio Silva to succumb to a guillotine choke. Both of these wins came in the opening round of their respective bouts.
At UFC 65, Vera, who was firmly in title contention, squared off against former UFC Heavyweight Champion, Frank Mir. The result was a fantastic crushing of a weathered Frank Mir. Vera had demolished the former champion with knees and punches in 69 seconds.
In a mere thirteen months, Vera had entered the UFC as a veritable unknown, but had been catapulted by a string of incredible finishes against stout opposition into the upper ranks of UFC talent. Vera was seen as an almost certain future heavyweight champion, not to mention that many had concluded that he had the potential to become the first man to capture and hold the titles in two different weight divisions simultaneously.
Vera’s opportunity to capture the coveted UFC Heavyweight Championship was set for UFC 68, in which he would face defending champion, Tim Sylvia. A contract dispute with UFC management led to Vera being replaced at UFC 68 by the legendary Randy Couture, who coming out of retirement returned to the Octagon to secure a unanimous decision victory and the title, in what became the fight of the year for 2007.
UFC 68 was Vera’s opportunity for ultimate glory – capturing a championship. Following his scratch from the aforementioned card, Vera went on to drop two heavyweight bouts in a row. The first loss came at UFC 77 to former champion Tim Sylvia, and the other being a technical knockout loss to Fabricio Werdum at UFC 85. After these losses, Vera made the wise move of dropping to light heavyweight, a weight class he was physically better suited for.
On July 19, 2008, at “Ultimate Fight Night 14,” Vera made his long-awaited debut at light heavyweight, scoring a unanimous decision victory over Reese Andy. In his next fight at UFC 89, Vera dropped a split decision to Keith Jardine. He followed this up by wins over Mike Patt at UFC 96 and Krzysztof Soszynski at UFC 102
Vera’s progress toward winning the UFC light heavyweight crown was derailed by a highly controversial loss to Randy Couture at UFC 105. In his next bout, Vera was handily defeated in the first round by future light heavyweight champion, Jon “Bones” Jones.
At UFC 125, Vera’s unanimous decision loss to Thiago Silva was later ruled to be a no contest when it became evident that Silva had falsified his urine sample. Vera briefly recaptured his winning ways with a unanimous decision win over Eliot Marshall at UFC 137.
However, just the other week, and despite Vera’s tremendous heart, Shogun forced Vera back into the loss column with a two punch combination in the fourth round of their UFC on FOX bout.
Vera will be 35 in October, he’s 6-6 with 1 no contest in his UFC career. Vera was once the brightest prospect in the UFC system. Unfortunately, he’s 1-3 (1 NC) in his last five fights, which almost certainly relegates him to gatekeeper status at 205lbs.
I certainly hope this is not the case, as his skill set and incredible heart always makes him a game competitor, yet I don’t see him realistically defeating the crop of younger premier fighters who occupy the top of the light heavyweight division.