Brandon Vera had a 1-2 record with one no-contest in the four fights leading up to his bout with Mauricio Rua on Saturday night. And while Vera suffered a TKO loss to "Shogun," he showed tremendous heart and ability during the fight and definitely upped his stock in the UFC.
Vera went toe-to-toe with Rua in one of the more entertaining fights of the year. It was a back-and-forth battle in which both guys were landing bombs and taking huge shots to do so. Vera could have wilted under a furious early barrage by Rua, but instead he stood tall and fought back.
Though Vera clearly lost the opening round, he bounced back to take the second, landing a series of punishing kicks, knees and hooks. He was rocked early in the round, but came back and put together some outstanding combinations and really took it to Shogun for the majority of the round.
Though I had the third as a 10-10 round, it could have easily gone either way. Again, both guys landed some spectacular shots while standing up. I was shocked they were able to stay on their feet that long.
In the fourth round, Rua finally got the better of Vera, flooring him with a devastating two-punch combination that no one could have recovered from.
Both fighters looked fatigued from the second round onward, but that was likely due to the amount of strikes being thrown.
Vera had long been criticized for a lack of focus after his meteoric rise was derailed by a series of disappointing losses. While his record fell to 12-6 (with one no-contest) Saturday night, he earned the respect of anyone watching.
We're likely to see Vera get another top-level fight in his next bout, thanks to his performance Saturday night.