As you may or may not have read by now, Brandon "The Truth" Vera is returning to the Heavyweight division for his next fight at UFC 164, in the hopes that the move will be the lone solution to reigniting the flame that was once a promising career.
When Vera began his MMA career as a heavyweight in 2005, he immediately showed flashes of a title contender, and after only two fights, he was invited into the UFC. He would go on to win his first six career fights (including Frank Mir), finishing all six fights in impressive fashion. Like most fighters, Vera eventually hit his career roadblock, as he next lost a title contender's fight against Tim Sylvia, breaking his hand in the process. In his very next fight, he suffered a TKO loss to Fabricio Werdum. It was shortly thereafter, in 2008, that Vera made the move down to the Light-Heavyweight division, and started a new chapter in the career of "The Truth".
Unfortunately for Vera, this new chapter would turn out to NOT be a successful one, as he would go on to compile a lackluster 4-5 record at the 205 class, with one of those losses being changed to a no-contest due to his opponent's drug test failure. It was this particular loss, by the way, that had originally led to Vera's release from the UFC in early 2011, before via stroke of luck, the result overturn was what got him rehired. In his first fight back, Vera defeated Eliot Marshall via close decision, but despite the win, Vera was still on the chopping block, and he was given one final chance to prove that he truly still belonged among the UFC's elite.
Which brings me to UFC on FOX 4, August 4, 2012. Vera's most recent fight. Although it was believed by many that he was not deserving of the opportunity, Vera faced off against former champ, Mauricio "Shogun" Rua, in a LHW title contender's match. Despite a very valiant effort, Vera was defeated by Rua in the 4th round in a fight that he came close to winning a couple of times during the fight. But alas, Vera's LHW stint continued to go nowhere.
For now, the mystery remains: will the return to Heavyweight be the missing piece of the puzzle that has eluded Vera for so long? A change in weight class has worked wonders for some fighters (Randy Couture, Demian Maia, Rich Franklin, Rashad Evans, Martin Kampmann, Kenny Florian, Vitor Belfort, Overeem, etc.), yet not so well for others (B.J. Penn, Nate Diaz, Jake Shields, Mike Swick, etc.). Without a doubt, Vera has had his greatest success at Heavyweight, yet has floundered at 205 in a rather embarrassing manner. Was it the tough weight cuts? Was it personal issues that effected him mentally? Or has Vera simply lost the passion to fight? Can he find that passion once again?
All questions to be answered in the not-too-distant future.