Brandon Vera first exploded onto the UFC scene in 2005. He walked through his first four opponents, finishing them all off before the judges had an opportunity to give their opinions. He fought with a desire and hunger that excited management and fans alike. However after his contract issues in late 2007, which caused him to miss almost a year’s worth of action, he has not returned to the Octagon as the same fighter. UFC president Dana White has certainly taken notice.
“He was good, he was walking through heavyweights,” White stated. “Took that year off, all the contract stuff, hasn’t been the same guy since. I don’t know what’s wrong with him.”
Saturday’s loss at UFC 89 to Keith Jardine marked his third loss in his last four bouts. Losing is one thing, but he has looked far from impressive in his last two bouts. He even appeared slow and sluggish in his unanimous decision victory over inferior fighter Reece Andy. With only one fight remaining on his current UFC deal, where does this leave Vera?
“Brandon Vera, it’s like he lost something,” White commented. “That year off, I don’t know what it was. He doesn’t have that killer instinct, he doesn’t go after it. This kid used to be so cocky, and you know he wanted to fight everybody.”
Vera (9-3, 5-3 in the UFC) does have a few things going for him as he fights for his UFC life. At 31-years old, he’s still fairly young, he’s charismatic and most importantly, has Filipino blood in him.
For the past three years, the UFC has been on a mission for worldwide dominance, and they have already expressed their plans to hold a UFC event in the Philippines sometime in 2009.
The UFC may want to use Vera as their poster boy into the country, like they did with Michael Bisping into England and welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre to Canada. As GSP showed, one man alone can sell out an entire arena within minutes.
By no means is Vera on St-Pierre’s level, in or out of the Octagon, however it is natural for fans to root for one of their own. Sure it would be an easier sell if Vera was on a winning streak, however one Filipino on the card is better than none.
(Picture courtesy of UFC.com)