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Eliot Marshall: I Don't Think Brandon Vera Wants It That Bad

Eliot Marshall faces Brandon Vera at UFC 137.If things go very, very well for Eliot Marshall at UFC 137 -- which is to say, if he not only beats Brandon Vera, but also earns one of the UFC's bonus awards for the best submission, knockout, or fight of the night -- it will be a profitable night in the Octagon for the Colorado-based light heavyweight.

But if he merely wins without collecting a big bonus, he told MMA Fighting, he'll probably just break even in the end.

"That's how much I've put into this [training] camp, financially," said Marshall. "Spending money to travel, go here and do this, do that, it's not cheap. I'm a hundred percent committed."

At this point, he pretty much has to be. That's because Marshal knows he's likely just one loss away from being cut by the UFC for a second time in two years. And if that happens, Marshall said, he plans to hang up the gloves and call it a career.

His thinking on the matter is simple, he explained. He's already been cut from the organization once, and had to volunteer for a short-notice fight with Luiz Cane at UFC 128 just to get back in. He lost that one via first-round TKO, but his willingness to step up when the UFC needed someone was apparently enough to earn him this second chance.

If he gets beat by Vera this Saturday night, he'll drop to 0-2 in his current UFC run and will almost certainly get his walking papers as a result. If that happens, he's not sure what the point would be of continuing on with his fighting career.

"How many guys do you know who get brought back for a third time?" he pointed out.

That's why, at least to hear Marshall tell it now, this could very well be it for him. He knows he'll be the underdog heading into the bout with Vera, and if things go the way oddsmakers expect them to the 31-year-old Marshall might be on his way to retirement this time next week.

Maybe that helps to explain why he's invested so much time and money into this training camp. With so much at stake, he wanted to make sure he was as well prepared as possible, he said, which meant multiple trips down to Greg Jackson's gym in Albuquerque, N.M., as well as driving all around Colorado to get in the gym with as many different sparring partners as he could find.

"That way you don't get used to anybody's style," he explained. "Sometimes you get used to what guy A does or guy B does, and then when you get in the cage to really fight, the guy you're fighting doesn't do what guy A or B does and you have to adapt. I've had to adapt every sparring session. My mind and my body is used to it, so it's not so much about what they're going to do, it's what I'm going to do."

But against an opponent like Vera, figuring out a path to victory isn't so easy, as Marshall has learned from hours of watching film.

"He's very, very tough," Marshall said. "Even when he's losing, he takes it. Thiago Silva whooped his ass, and he wasn't close to being stopped. He switches stances well. Obviously, he kicks hard. I guess on paper he should be the champ of the world, right?"

So why isn't he? Instead of being champ of the world, why is Vera winless in his last three fights, and just barely holding on to a spot in the UFC himself?

"I just don't think he wants it that bad," said Marshall, who added that, in the end, that's what he believes will make all the difference.

"What's going to decide the fight is who wants it more. I don't think any one skill-set is going to decide this fight. It's going to be, who's willing to get beat up? Who's willing to suffer to win this fight?"

The way Marshall sees it, that person is him. That's because he has to win this fight. If he doesn't, his stay in the UFC -- and, so he says, his career in MMA -- will both come to an end.

That explains why he's invested so much in his own training and preparation, he said. There's no reason not to go all-in now and see what happens. At this point in his career, there might not be a next time.