When UFC light-heavyweight Brandon Vera (11-4) stands in his corner to hear his name bellow out of Bruce Buffer’s mouth, a mirror image of a hungrier and younger version of himself will be staring right across the octagon on March 21st during the UFC’s first live event on Versus.
Young 205lbs prospect Jon “Bones” Jones (9-1) shares the same tenacious qualities Vera had a couple of years back that made him a force when he was running through the heavyweight division.
During their upcoming fight, both men are aiming at top spots in the division with a win; having a thunderous performance fueled by the same fearless aggression that makes both fighters exciting to watch.
However, Vera has struggled lately due to the lack of the exact aggression he possessed earlier in his career, his last fight ended with him on the losing end of a unanimous decision against Randy Couture at UFC 105.
Fighting Jones is an opportunity for Vera to reclaim some of that lost gusto.
“When I first came out I would just bang on people and roll with people just to see them break,” Vera said, as reported by MMAjunkie.com on a recent media call. “And I got away from that somehow. I don’t know what happened, or I got sucked into the MMA world and trying to disappoint people.
I’m over it. I want to go ahead and go in there and start doing things like I used to.”
During the first half of his career, Vera had an impressive string of finishes, a situation that had the media calling him the “next big thing” in the UFC.
Unfortunately, the 32-year-old fighter got sidelined by getting caught up in the whirlwind of expectations from different sources, the media and fans, he began to forget about his roots.
“I was doing jiu-jitsu before I started fighting,” Vera said. “I love being on the ground. I’m better on my back than I am on top of you. I’ve been submitting people all day now that I’ve gone back to my jiu-jitsu roots. So if somebody takes me to the ground, you could end up seeing someone submitted. I’m back on my jiu-jitsu game.”
His last submission victory happened back in 2006 against Assuerio Silva at UFC 60, Vera defeated the Brazilian by guillotine choke in the first round.
Some argue that the ages of 30-32 are the golden years for fighters where all the physical and mental experience mold into one harmonious concoction of confidence.
The 32-year-old has been backtracking through his past in search of certain elements that made him the dangerous fighter he was when he began.
“It’s just a whole different attitude now,” Vera said. “I even made a soundtrack. I made a soundtrack of all the songs I listened to when I first started training … and now the attitude is more an f it attitude now. I stopped believing in the hype. I stopped worrying about what people think and I’m going in there to just hurt people again.”
Vera believes that once he finds his fighting mojo again, he’ll be able to take advantage of one of the few weaknesses in Jones’ game: his inexperience.
Despite the game plan, Vera is confident in one thing, three rounds is more than enough time for each explosive fighter to finish the fight. The judges might as well take an intermission during the main event.
“I just think 15 minutes is too long for me and Jones to be banging one each other,” Vera said. “One of us are going to have to go to sleep, I think.”