Early in his UFC career, Brandon Vera
was a top prospect who could be counted on to finish fights. But ever since his first career loss three years ago to Tim Sylvia, his killer instinct has taken a backseat to hesitation.
However, Vera (11-4) is expecting to change that, telling reporters recently that he will push the pace more beginning with his March 21 fight against Jon Jones
"When I first came out I would just bang on people and roll with people just to see them break," Vera said on a media call. "And I got away from that somehow. I don't know what happened, or I got sucked into the MMA world and trying to disappoint people. I'm over it. I want to go ahead and go in there and start doing things like I used to."
In Vera's first eight fights, he finished seven of his opponents, including four in the UFC. Vera's impressive wins and stoppages gained him recognition as the future of the UFC. Unfortunately, he also began thinking of himself more as a striker and forgot about his strong grappling background.
"MMA is a growing process for me too," Vera said. "For some reason, I don't know when or where it started. I started worrying about defending the takedown so much. I don't know. I started becoming this standup fighter and everybody wanted to see me bang, so I just stopped the takedowns, and I just started defending the takedown all the time. "
But Vera has since realized that he shouldn't be worried about being taken to the ground. After all, he's a brown belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu under Lloyd Irvin.
"I was doing jiu-jitsu before I started fighting," Vera said. "I love being on the ground. I'm better on my back than I am on top of you. I've been submitting people all day now that I've gone back to my jiu-jitsu roots. So if somebody takes me to the ground, you could end up seeing someone submitted. I'm back on my jiu-jitsu game."
He also gave himself an attitude adjustment by recapturing a part of his younger self.
"It's just a whole different attitude now," Vera said. "I even made a soundtrack. I made a soundtrack of all the songs I listened to when I first started training ... and now the attitude is more an f it attitude now. I stopped believing in the hype. I stopped worrying about what people think and I''m going in there to just hurt people again."
Now 32 and no longer running with the top young prospect label, he'll instead take on the role of the crafty veteran. And he says that is his most apparent advantage going into the fight against Jones.
"Honestly, the only thing that we can really, really find is his inexperience," Vera said. "His game is tight. His striking is good. His defense is good. His footwork is good. We've been studying him for awhile and his biggest weakness is his inexperience. That's the only x-factor in this game. Everything else he's almost like a seasoned vet."
Although Vera comes into the fight with four decisions in his last five fights, Vera believes this one fight especially will not be going to the score cards.
"I just think 15 minutes is too long for me and Jones to be banging one each other," Vera said. "One of us are going to have to go to sleep, I think."