Not long ago, Brandon Vera was one of the more popular fighters in the UFC. A highly publicized contract dispute and losses in three of his next four bouts dropped him out of the fans’ good graces and into a non-televised bout at UFC 96.
“Somewhere along the lines I became one of those guys I used to talk [expletive] about,” Vera said of his old work ethic. “I stopped training and doing the things that got me here in the first place. I don’t know when it happened or why it happened or how it happened. But it happened. ’08 definitely was not great. I’m sad to say that it went that way.”
That is a dark alley that Vera doesn’t want to travel down again. Dropping bouts in the UFC is one thing, but losing while putting up poor performances is another story.
“I just wasn’t into it,” said Vera. “I was training and doing my thing. I would be the hardest working guy in the gym. But my mind wasn’t into it. I wasn’t excited to go back to the gym or do my second training session or my third training session. It all changed now though. I found some new coaches and I had some guys kick me in the butt.”
Vera was hoping that the whooping he endured during training would prevent him from getting the stepchild treatment inside the Octagon come fight time.
“I got lost last year among a whole bunch of BS,” said Vera. “My head got a little bit swollen … actually a lot a bit swollen. I started not doing the things I was supposed to be doing and still fighting some of the best guys in the world. Even though I was losing, I wasn’t losing bad so I figured I was doing OK.”
The needle that seemed to burst Vera’s inflated dome was when he was demoted to the dark portion of this past Saturday’s UFC 96 event. To him, that was one step closer to getting cut by an organization that seems intent on trimming the excess fat from its roster.
He knew that the only thing he could do was steamroll Michael Patt and prove to everyone that the new-and-improved Vera is still one of the world’s best fighters.
“Everything has changed,” Vera said. “It’s retarded. My diet, my work ethic, everything. I don’t eat bad stuff. If you were with me last year and seen what I’m doing now you would think something’s wrong with me. That’s how much things have changed.”
His 2ndRound TKO of Patt marked his first win in five months, and his first finish in over two years. Hopefully for the Filipino, the new version of Vera will be the only version.