Saturday night's fight lacks the drama that usually categorizes great fights, but Brandon Vera has extra motivation that could make this fight better than expect.
Vera will be fighting for his very career. An 0-5-1 record against name opponents has kept Vera from ascending to the ranks of the elite, and his fight against Mauricio Rua will be his last chance.
Though Vera has gotten close against some top names, he's never managed to defeat a major name.
Once considered a future championship contender, Vera has fallen on hard times. His last big win was in 2006 against Frank Mir. Since then, Vera has fallen farther and farther.
Rua, on the other hand, has beaten some big-time fighters, with his career highlight being a championship win over Lyoto Machida.
The key here is that Rua doesn't have much to lose with a loss, where Vera could lose everything. With that kind of motivation, Vera could be focused enough to handle the onslaught that Rua brings in his fights.
If Vera can withstand Rua's aggressive style early, he has a chance to take over near the end of the fight.
Vera excels at grappling and quick moves, while Rua is more of a heavy-hitter. What Vera must do is fight defensively early, avoiding Rua's big strikes and getting in quick strikes when he can.
As Rua wears down, Vera could swoop in and take control of the fight.
A victory over Rua would keep Vera's career alive and would be his biggest win yet. Failure, though, would force Vera into an early retirement. There is no stronger motivation than that in UFC, so this fight could be closer than many think.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!