Shogun Rua vs. Brandon Vera: 5 Things We Learned About Brandon Vera

Craig AmosFeatured ColumnistAugust 5, 2012

Shogun Rua vs. Brandon Vera: 5 Things We Learned About Brandon Vera

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    Brandon Vera and Mauricio Rua combated one another in a battle of attrition that nearly lasted four full rounds on Saturday, August 4. The bout formed the main event of UFC on FOX 4.

    While Shogun was able to achieve the victory most expected he would, he did not do so with the ease that was predicted. On the contrary, Brandon Vera made it about as tough as possible on the former champion, thwarting his title aspirations, though conceding victory.

    Even in a loss the performance was a coup for Vera, who exceeded general expectations and surprised no small number of critics.

    The following slideshow is a list of five things that we learned from Vera's grueling performance at UFC on FOX 4. 

Vera Is Better Than His Last Several Fights Have Shown

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    Once thought to be the next big thing in MMA, Brandon Vera crashed hard in 2007. Since that time the fire has never really been put out, it's just been controlled.

    But if Vera's performance at UFC on FOX 4 was any indication, he may be more relevant at 205 than most have been giving him credit for these past few years.

    Though Vera was unable to secure a win over Shogun Rua on FOX, he was able to take the former UFC champion into deep waters and put him in some precarious positions. Vera landed an assortment of kicks, knees and punches to the head of Rua throughout the fou-rround affair, wearing his opponent down to the point of exhaustion.

    Unfortunately for Vera, he too wore down and it was Shogun who was able to finish the fight with a series of punches.

    Despite the result, Vera's performance exceeded the expectations of most viewers. He was supposed to be a sitting duck for Shogun to parlay into a title shot, but he wasn't having any of that. Vera was able to make a competitive match out of it, and that's no small feat against a guy like Shogun.

Vera Is Determined to Succeed

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    Some critics point to motivation for explaining why Vera fell off so suddenly after become one of the sport's top prospects. But if there is one thing we can be sure of after Vera's performance on UFC on FOX 4, it's that he is determined to compete, and determined to win.

    Shogun put Vera in countless bad positions throughout the match and hit him with an onslaught of heavy punches. There were many instances where it looked as though Vera would crumple to the mat and the fight would end, but he just kept coming back.

    Vera was entirely unwilling to concede victory to Rua, even in multiple situations when it appeared as though defeat was imminent. And his determination nearly resulted in a win. As beaten down as Vera was in the middle rounds of the contest, he sprung several damaging attacks that put Rua on the defensive. 

    Eventually though, Shogun's persistence proved too much for Vera, and the Truth's will could not withstand any more damage.

    Vera lost the match, but there is no way anyone can question his desire to win. 

Vera Is Still a Dangerous Striker at 205

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    Both Vera and Rua got their fair share of licks in at UFC on FOX 4, each guy doing damage with all four limbs.

    That Vera was able to keep it so close is a testament to how good a standup specialist he is. Where he failed Saturday night was in letting Shogun bully him against the cage too often and possessing a softer skull than his opponent.

    While Shogun has the jump on nearly any 205er in the UFC in the latter category, the former is a point for improvement that Vera has long neglected. He is not the most physically strong guy in the division and he often fails to hide this by letting opponents close the distance on him too easily. It is possible that he allows foes to do this as a means to gain the Thai clinch, but too often is he tied up, taken down or simply overpowered.

    When distance between the fighters was maintained at UFC on FOX 4, the bout was very close, and contesting Shogun so evenly on the feet is something for Vera to hang his hat on. 

Vera Will Remain in the UFC

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    After his loss to Thiago Silva in January, 2011, Brandon Vera was released by the UFC. Once that result was overturned to a no decision because of Silva's failed drug test, Vera was reinstated.

    In his first fight back with the promotion Vera scored a win over Eliot Marshall, which he parlayed into a fight with Rua. Given that the UFC had shown its willingness to cut ties with the Truth once, it was assumed that a loss at UFC on FOX 4 may very well be the end of the line for Vera. 

    Only this time it would be for real.

    Though Vera did indeed lose on FOX his performance was nothing to scoff at, and will almost certainly prove good enough to earn him another match under the UFC banner.

Vera Is Still Not a Top Contender

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    For all the praise I have heaped on Vera for his performance at UFC on FOX 4 he remains on the outside looking in. Certainly, he has proven himself capable of making the upper-echelon of the light heavyweight division sweat, but that is something entirely different from proving he can beat any of the division's top dogs.

    The line between winning and losing in MMA can be a fine one sometimes, but there is no mistaking those who can cross it against the best and those who cannot. 

    Until he proves otherwise, Vera will remain on the side who cannot.