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UFC 105: Brandon Vera Preparing for 'Capable, Dangerous' Randy Couture

Brandon Vera has been a Randy Couture fan for years. Now he's getting ready to fight him in the Octagon.

Vera, who will take on Couture in the main event at UFC 105 on Saturday on Spike TV, said in an interview with FanHouse that he remembers watching Couture fighting in the UFC in 1997 -- long before Vera himself considered becoming an MMA fighter. Vera said he views the 46-year-old Couture as one of the toughest opponents he'll ever face, but he also said he's ready to take the fight to his legendary opponent.

The full interview is below.

Michael David Smith: How would you describe Randy Couture as a fighter?
Brandon Vera: I would say probably one of the most capable, most dangerous opponents anybody could face in the UFC.

Do you remember when you first watched Randy Couture fight?
I remember watching him fight in the UFC back in the day when they would use the tournament style and he would have to fight two fights in one night. When I first saw him it was very early in his career.

Were you a fan of the UFC before you were a fighter yourself?
Oh, yeah. Long before. For sure. I loved the sport before I did it myself.

How early did you get into watching the UFC? The Royce Gracie days?
Yes, I was a big fan of him, I loved Dan Severn, I'll always remember that one dude who got punched in his nuts a lot (Joe Son vs. Keith Hackney) -- I don't actually remember who was fighting in that one but I remember the fight.

Did it ever occur to you when you were first watching Couture, that some day you'd like to fight him yourself?
No. I didn't think about that. When I first saw Randy I didn't know I'd become a fighter and I didn't think I'd fight him, but once I got into the sport I knew that I wanted to become one of the great ones, and to become one of the great ones you have to beat the great ones, so I knew I wanted to fight someone like Randy sooner or later.

When you were a fan of the UFC but not a fighter, were you involved in martial arts?
I was doing taekwondo when I was very young, and I was a wrestler in sixth grade, and I enjoyed martial arts like that, but that was before I had any idea I would fight in something like the UFC.

And then you got involved in kickboxing?
Yeah, I got into kickboxing after wrestling. I wanted to get my striking down to a science, and I went into muay Thai.

And you trained with one of the best kickboxers ever, Rob Kamen. What was that like?
Rob Kamen was my striking coach, and he's one of the greats. You can't argue with that. He was a good coach.

Do you view Randy as still being one of the truly elite fighters in the sport, or do you think that he's finally on the downside of his career?
It's Randy Couture, man. Every time you fight Randy Couture you're at risk of looking up at the ceiling. No way is Randy Couture on the downside. Until Randy Couture really, truly retires for good, he's a danger to anybody. I don't think he's declining at all. There is no downside to Randy Couture, I don't think.

But realistically, we're talking about a 46-year-old. Do you think this could be his last fight?
I suppose it could end up that way.

How would you feel about being the person to retire Randy Couture?
I would have mixed emotions. It would be a very satisfying, sad moment.

You lost your two previous fights in England, to Keith Jardine and Fabricio Werdum, so I'm sure those aren't great memories, but what were the crowds like?
They love me over there in England. The fans cheer me, they come up and talk to me, they're super supportive fans over there in the U.K. They're good fans. Great fans.

Are you glad to be back in England?
It's going to be great. The fans in England are some of the best fans. But it would be nice to fight in Las Vegas or California or somewhere closer.

You prefer to fight closer to home?
Yes. Well, no -- what I would prefer is to fight in the Philippines. That's what I really want. That's what I hope will happen.

I know the UFC has talked about going into the Philippines, and with your Filipino heritage you're obviously someone they'd want to have on the card. When do you think that's going to happen?
I don't know for sure. I've talked to Dana White about it and he's told me he'd love to do it, but there are certain aspects of the business end that have kept us from doing it yet. I hope they get that figured out because I'd love to do it.

Just a few hours after you fight Randy Couture, there's a huge fight for the Philippines, when Manny Pacquiao fights Miguel Cotto. Are you going to be able to get in front of a TV to watch that?
Hell, yeah. That's actually one of the biggest things I'm doing is getting ready to go watch that fight after my fight is over. I have to watch that guy fight. Pacquiao is awesome.

Pacquiao is enormously popular in the Philippines and boxing is very big there, but what about the UFC? What kind of fan base does it have?

The UFC put together an open workout for me at a mall in the Philippines, and 3,000 or 4,000 people showed up, just to watch me train. People kept telling me they were blown away by how big the crowd was -- they never had a crowd like that. I know they brought Chuck Liddell out to the Philippines also, but I drew a bigger crowd than he did.

Have you given any thought to how close this fight can put you to title contention? Could it be one more fight and then a title shot?

I don't think about that at all. You can't think about that when you're preparing for an opponent like Randy. I have to get by him first, and then worry about everything else later.

You and Randy have both moved back and forth between heavyweight and light heavyweight. How much do you weigh right now? Do you have any trouble making the 205-pound light heavyweight limit?
No, not at all. I just got off the scale a moment ago and I weighed 210.2 pounds. No problem with the weight for me.

So I take it you don't need to hit the sauna on weigh-in day?
No, on weigh-in day I'll go eat some breakfast, go back to sleep in the hotel, and then go weigh in. I've got all my weight cutting down to where it's really easy for me to make 205.

Six days after you take on Randy Couture, we're going to see Kerry Vera vs. Kim Couture on a Strikeforce card. What do you think of Strikeforce putting your wives in the cage against each other?

I think it's cool. I'm actually not sure which fight was being talked about first, I don't know what goes on with all that, but it's great that both of us have fights coming up, both of us are training real hard, and both of us are feeling really good about where we are.

Is your wife going to be in England with you?
Yes, she is. That was the big discussion around the house, was whether she should go over there with me even though she's preparing for a fight of her own. But she was finally just like, "You're fighting Randy Couture. I have to come and watch."

How do you two balance your training with other responsibilities, and do you train together?
We train in the same gym at the same time with the same coaches, but we do not train together. I train on my side of the gym and she trains on her side of the gym and we just rotate between our coaches. We don't mess with each other in the gym. We need to keep our personal lives and our professional lives a little bit separate.

Tell me what you think the fans can expect to see on Saturday night.
They can expect to see what an MMA fight is supposed to look like. Against Randy, you have to give it a great fight, and that's what I'm going to do. He's going to fight to his full potential and I'm going to fight to my full potential, and that makes it a great fight.

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