- The highlights of Brandon Vera’s career reside in the past.
A little more than a year ago, the Chula Vista fighter fought the fight of his life … and lost.
Almost four years ago, Vera was handed a unanimous-decision defeat to five-time world champion Randy Couture, even though many agreed the judges had gotten it wrong.
And before that, during an undefeated run that made him the darling of the UFC, Vera was, verily, “The Truth” — both in demeanor and in the cage. But that is the past.
In the present, Vera has won just one fight in the last four years. He lost his second straight fight Saturday, dropped by TKO against Ben Rothwell at UFC 164 in Milwaukee. Now, the UFC may drop Vera — this time for good.
Vera started his professional career with an impressive eight-fight unbeaten streak. He has since gone 4-7 with a no-contest. His overall UFC mark is an uninspiring 8-7-1. The track record doesn’t bode well for a 35-year-old facing a dearth of favorable matchups.
You can’t fault Vera for his effort. Last August, he gave Mauricio Rua all he could handle before succumbing to the former champion’s power in the fourth round of their light-heavyweight bout.
Following the loss, Vera trained religiously — two, sometimes three times a day — even without a fight lined up. He put on weight in the process and felt good keeping it on. That prompted a decision to return to the heavyweight division for the first time in five years Saturday. The hope was that Vera would be able to utilize his advantages in speed and quickness over the larger Rothwell, who had alternated wins and losses since his Octagon debut in 2009.
Instead, backed by his hometown crowd, Rothwell was the one looking spry and energetic in Milwaukee. Vera faded after a solid first round. Rothwell stalked Vera, absorbing his best shots. By the third round, visibly bored of chasing Vera, Rothwell seemed to mock his opponent by dancing around the cage. He then unleashed a series of hard punches, landed an upper cut and added a few knees to the face. In a few seconds, it was over.
Thus, Vera’s attempt at a career revival backfired against an opponent he theoretically should have beaten. After a lackluster stint as a light heavyweight, Vera appeared overmatched in his return to the heavyweight class. He still has won just one fight in the last four years, and he looked no closer to changing that last weekend. A real future in the UFC seems even more unlikely, given Vera’s lack of options at either weight.
Ironically, back when he was undefeated, Vera predicted that he would one day hold concurrent titles in the light-heavyweight and heavyweight divisions. But that is the past.
This is the present, and where Vera goes from here — a seeming no-man’s land — is anybody’s guess.