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Brandon Vera promises UFC 96 win a sign of things to come
Brandon Vera promises UFC 96 win a sign of things to come
A win over Mike Patt (12-4 MMA, 0-2 UFC) might not earn anyone an immediate title shot, but for the UFC's Brandon Vera (10-3 MMA, 6-3 UFC), his UFC 96 TKO-win over the Ohio native was a step in the right direction.
"I found myself," the former heavyweight contender recently told MMAjunkie.com Radio (www.mmajunkie.com/radio). "It wasn't just at 205 (pounds). I found myself as a fighter, as well.
"I'm happy with myself and where my mind's at and where we're at as far as my coaching goes and where we're at in my career. I'm super excited to be where I'm at today."
Vera's win comes after a stretch of three losses in four fights, and "The Truth" said it took that difficult series of bouts to begin a change in his career.
"I would say it's a combination of everything (that influenced me to change)," Vera said. "The losses didn't really add up. You're supposed to learn something from your losses, or gain something from it. I didn't. I always had something to fall back on, whether it was a broken hand, or the referee stopped the fight early, or I cut weight too hard.
"The Jardine fight was the fight that I actually started thinking about what I'm doing as a fighter. I started training different for Jardine, but maybe it was a little bit too little, too late. I might have started training like a real fighter maybe too late to be able to beat Jardine at that point in my career."
Vera said the change that began during his training for Jardine has remained in place.
"I didn't end up getting super-serious about this until the middle part of camp for Jardine. I just continued on from there.
"I would say it's a combination of everything from my gym to my home life to lawsuits to this, that, that, this. We're still human, and I still have things other than fighting to worry about in my life. I would say it's a whole bunch of the above, besides getting a big head. That definitely adds to it, too."
The over-confidence that contributed to losses to Jardine, Fabricio Werdum and Tim Sylvia also affected Vera's preparation in the "off-season," a behavior that "The Truth" has definitively changed.
"I was losing to these guys, and I wasn't even training the way I am now," Vera said. "It's like I was getting by on talent alone. I would (only) train hard for eight weeks.
"I'm a 'go-hard' kind of guy. When we get into the gym, I'm going to do what's required of me. Whatever you tell me to do, I'm going to do. You give me a certain time to finish, certain reps, I'm going to do it. I'm not going to just fade out and say, 'Oh, I can't do it anymore.' I'm going to finish what's in front of me. But I would only do that for an eight-week camp, and then I would be off to the races, living like a fat cat not doing anything, gaining weight."
Vera said he would only hit the gym to converse when he wasn't preparing for a fight.
"I'd show up to the gym maybe once a week, talk to people, and then leave," Vera said. "I guess when I figured out that wasn't going to work anymore, that the talent wasn't going to get me by anymore, that I actually have to work, it was actually like a breath of fresh air, I guess you could say. It was like, 'Oh, that's what I need to be doing.'
"I wish somebody would have smacked me in the back of the head and told me a long time ago, but as all my coaches said, 'Brandon, that's something you're going to have to go through. You're going to have to figure that out on your own. You're lucky you figured it out in less than a year, as opposed to some fighters that don't ever get a chance to figure it out and get kicked out of the UFC. Or some fighters don't ever figure it out and just fade away into the abyss.'"
While it may appear from outside the situation that Vera's coaches could have provided better direction to him long before now, the 31-year-old insists it was a lesson best learned on his own.
"I'm pig-headed," Vera said. "I'm hard-headed, bro. Whatever I want to do, or wherever I want to go, I'm doing it, and there's nothing you can say. I'm a fighter, through-and-through. You're not going to tell me what I can and can't do, unless it's eight weeks out.
"I remember one of the stupidest thing I ever said to my coaches was, 'If there's no fight, if I don't have a contract signed to fight, I don't want to be training really hard.' That was probably one of the most horrible things I ever told my coaches. They told me they didn't want to push it on me. They wanted me to figure it out for myself. It's a better lesson learned that I figured it out rather than them pushing it on me."
Many observers have pointed to the 11 months of inactivity between Vera's November 2006 win over Frank Mir and a UFC 77 loss to Tim Sylvia as a turning point for the worse in the California resident's career.
Vera's not so sure.
"I'm not sure if that had a big [effect] on it, or if it was just my mindset," Vera said. "Right now I'm so dead-set on, 'The way I was thinking was wrong the whole time, ever since my Tim Sylvia fight.' My mindset has just been wrong.
"It could have been the money I was making. It could have been the things I was reading online. It could have been the fame. It could have been a whole bunch of stuff."
Whatever it was, Vera believes the issues are a thing of the past. And while the win over Patt won't be turning many heads, Vera has a goal in mind that just might.
"I'm in the 205-pound division in the UFC," Vera said. "That's arguably the deepest talent pool in MMA right now. It's got the who's-who and the what's-what of the 205-pound division. I think it's more stacked than the 155-pound division right now.
"Any fighter in the 205-pound division on any given day could end up being the champ that day. It would be awesome to fight anybody, anybody in the top-five, anybody in the top-10 in the UFC. I'm down."