If I were to name a fighter “The Rocky Balboa” of Mixed Martial Arts, I believe I could make a strong argument for Filipino UFC Fighter, Brandon “The Truth” Vera. A man whose fight career was a string of ups and downs. Many have him listed among the best kick boxers in MMA. Those striking skills in addition to his prowess in Greco-Roman Wrestling and championships in Southern Californian Jiu Jitsu tournaments, Vera could be a prototype for the modern fighter, excellent at all areas. Joe Rogan once called Vera a heavyweight version of GSP.
In October 2005 Vera made his UFC debut in a heavyweight match against Fabiano Scherner. Using knees in the clinch to dispatch his opponent via TKO in the second round, he went on to knock out and submit his next two opponents respectively. This earned the young, exciting undefeated heavyweight a match against a Top Ten UFC fighter. That fight came against former UFC Heavyweight Champion, Frank Mir. It took Brandon Vera only 69 seconds to knock out Mir. The UFC had found their new superstar. Next up for the Filipino heavyweight – a shot at the UFC Heavyweight Championship.
Brandon “The Truth” Vera’s championship fight never came. Contract disputes with his management and the UFC sidelined the heavyweight contender for over a year. After cutting ties with his management, he was finally re-signed to the UFC, but was never the same inside the cage. Undersized as a heavyweight, he lost a boring match via decision against the man he was supposed to fight for the Championship, Tim Silvia. Then Vera lost by first round TKO to the man who went on to beat Fedor Emelianenko, Fabrico Werdum.
In losing two straight at heavyweight, Vera dropped down to the light heavyweight division. His first match came against IFL stand out Reese Andy, which he won by a boring unanimous decision. Next up for “The Truth” was an fight against “The Ultimate Fighter” stand out, Keith Jardine. Unfortunately for Vera it didn’t go his way, losing by split decision.
Prior to his next fight, telling everyone with a microphone or a camera, Brandon “The Truth” Vera said he was back. Back to the old Vera who blazed through the heavyweight division. After destroying Michael Patt with leg kicks, “The Truth” did indeed seem like he was back to his old self. Then came a lack luster decision win against Winnipeg’s own Krzysztof Soszynski. This win earned him a date with UFC Legend, Randy “The Natural” Couture. It was another back and forth fight that again ended with Vera on the wrong side of a narrow split decision.
Once again, Brandon Vera told everyone he was back to his old form and this time he found himself up against young up and comer, Jon “Bones” Jones. Like Vera’s early days, Jones had buzz-sawed though all his past opponents. Vera would be no different. Jones took him down, then ground and pounded him out. Fracturing Vera’s orbital bone with his elbow.
After months of recovery, Brandon Vera was slotted to face Thiago Silva on January 1, 2011. Vera looked good standing and trading; unfortunately, he had no answer on the ground, where the fight stayed for the better part of all three rounds. The most humiliating part was when Silva held on to him from behind and played the bongos on Vera’s back. The “Truth” lost another decision, and after losing three straight, he was let go from the UFC. Recently, there seems to be some discrepancy in Thiago Silva’s post fight drug test. It looks like they’ll turn the outcome of the fight into a no contest, and the UFC has put Brandon Vera back on the roster.
Now I said I could make an argument to name Brandon “The Truth” Vera the Rocky Balboa of MMA. Like Rocky, he’s had ups and downs. But unlike the Italian Stallion, Vera has yet to realize his full potential. The Filipino fighter has the skills, maybe now he’s back in the UFC he can finally live up to his potential and not just talk about it. Then again, maybe Brandon “The Truth” Vera just isn’t the fighter we all believe he is. If that’s the case, “The Truth” hurts.