Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Round 4, Knockout
Brandon Vera was a cautionary tale for young fighters who got too cocky too early. Before he had done much at all of note, Vera was already talking about holding multiple title belts simultaneously. Today, those proclamations seem so patently ridiculous that it's hard to believe they ever really happened.
Vera, to put it mildly, hasn't lived up to expectations. A contract dispute during his formative years was a setback and then losses to former heavyweight champ Tim Sylvia and Fabricio Werdum hurt his psyche more than his body.
"Two losses for sure will put a crack in your self confidence," Vera confided to the cameras in a pre-fight special. Other losses followed, including a shellacking at the hands of Thiago Silva (later changed to a no-contest) that was particularly demoralizing.
In short, Brandon Vera had no business fighting against Mauricio "Shogun" Rua in the main event of the UFC's fourth show on Fox. He was no longer a prospect, no longer a contender and it was clear to almost everyone that he would never be the fighter we all envisioned he might become.
No one believed in Brandon Vera. And yet, there he was in the fourth round against Rua, not just hanging in there, but quite often looking like he had a real shot at winning.
Ultimately the Cinderella story wasn't meant to be; Rua prevailed with a fourth-round TKO, as Vera eventually wilted under Rua's constant pressure. But he had given us something to think about, even, yes I'll say, reinvigorating the Brandon Vera myth. I'm curious but cautious to see what his next fight brings.