Poet John Whittier once wrote "For all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these: What might have been". Brandon Vera has had a career with more than its share of successes. He has been able to support himself financially because of his fighting skill and one might think that this 32-year-old native of Norfolk, Virginia would be looked at as a fighter that has reached the sport's premier stage and acquitted himself well. But fans and critics have seen what they believe to be his potential and there is an overwhelming feeling that Vera hasn't lived up to it. Such is life in the fight game. It often makes observers and even fighters themselves ask "What might have been?" The highs are euphoric and worth all of the hard work. And the losses are harder on you (both mentally and physically) than almost any sport. Life in the UFC's 205 pound division is extremely tough and Vera could use a boost coming off of his decision loss to Randy Couture late last year. The frustrating things for many fans is that Vera has looked competitive even in losses and often flashes glimpses of the skills that had many industry insiders touting him as one of the sport's top prospects. For the second outing in a row, Vera is participating in the main event of a nationally televised card. It's time for "The Truth" to get this win and put his name back in the mix. Brandon Vera has a professional record of 11-4 with seven wins coming by way of knockout and one win coming by way of submission. The combined career winning percentage of the opponents that he has faced so far is 69.3%.
One could argue that Jon "Bones" Jones is an unfortunate victim of the "unrealistic expectations" phenomenon. Of course, he's also been a big-time beneficiary of the attention that accompanies it. Standing 6'4" and boasting a simply incredible 7 foot wingspan, Jones has burst into the collective consciousness of MMA fans during the past year with impressive victories and, as in his last fight, impressive performances even when he doesn't get the win. Coming off of his "loss" to Matt Hamill back in December, Jones wasted no time accepting the challenge of facing a talented, well-known veteran in this, his first headlining fight. It's not just the skills of Jones that have turned heads. What might be most impressive is his style. His approach to fighting is definitely unique and he has proven to be an incredibly tough matchup for opponents in the loaded light heavyweight class. Can Jon Jones get this victory in front of a national television audience? Will we see some more of his Greco Roman skills on display? Will he approach Vera with more unorthodox striking? We'll find out on Sunday night. Jon Jones has a professional record of 9-1 with five wins coming by way of knockout and two wins coming by way of submission. The combined career winning percentage of the opponents that he has faced is 66.2%.
On paper, this fight is a barnburner. As longtime fight fans know, however, such fights are often more strategic than we anticipate them to be with both fighters exercising more caution than usual. Although I know that Vera feels a sense of urgency here and will look to pull the trigger on his striking more frequently, I can't help but think that Jones will utilize the right game plan to get this win, utilizing the clinch to his advantage. I think this will be a competitive fight and will likely go the distance. People tend to heap expectations on Jones as if he is Super Man but the truth is that he still has plenty of things to improve on. Bonnar and Gusmao made it to the final bell against Jones and Vera likely will too. Not to mention that Vera should push him more than he's ever been pushed. My prediction: Jon Jones by decision.