After a year-long contract dispute with the UFC after his victory over Frank Mir in 2006, Brandon Vera is still trying to prove that he belongs amongst the MMA elite. After his return, he lost his first two bouts, not looking like the exciting and explosive fighter that had originally left the UFC. He finally got his career back on the winning track against Reese Andy this past July at Fight Night 14, however he needed to drop down a weight class in order to do it. Vera may not like it, but the deeper 205-pound division is where he might be able to make his mark.
“Cutting that much weight and performing was the problem,” Vera told MMAWeekly about the dreaded weight cutting process. “I didn’t think it was gonna be, but I hadn’t cut weight in nine years.”
Vera learned his lesson the last time, and did a much better job in preparing his body for the weight loss needed for this weekend’s bout against Keith Jardine at UFC 89. Jardine is a much more dangerous opponent than Andy was, so he knew that he had more things to worry about than just the weight cut.
“He’s got great hands and a super awkward style,” Vera said about his opponent. “An unorthodox, offbeat style; that’s a problem for almost every fighter. But it’s just something we’ve been working on in the game plan. Just making sure I execute the game plan that’s been set forth by my coaches.”
At this point in Vera’s career, a win is imperative. Losing three out of your last four in the UFC is not a good place to be, especially when your future looked so bright prior to the contract dispute. Vera knows that it is time to either put up or shut up, and he is ready to prove his worth, but it won’t be an easy task against a game Jardine.
“Nobody ever respected him or gave him the time of day until he started putting people to sleep,” Vera said. “I’m glad I didn’t do the same before I have to fight him. I just look at him as somebody that could knock me out. So I’ve got to be on my p’s and q’s.”
And if Jardine wants to keep the fight in the center of the Octagon, with both swinging for the fences?
“I guess we’re just going to stand there and hang out, man,” he continued. “I’m cool with that.”
Hopefully it will be as exciting as Vera anticipates.