Brandon Vera wasn't exactly the opponent most fans were hoping for when he was paired up with Mauricio "Shogun" Rua at UFC on FOX 4.
The announcement came after Brian Stann suffered a shoulder injury, which forced him and his opponent Hector Lombard off of the card and prompted the UFC to find a new main event.
The new pairing of Vera and Rua has left fans unsatisfied, and a lot of them feel Vera is a mismatch for the former UFC light heavyweight champion.
But that only lights a fire under Vera, and he told Ariel Helwani on The MMA Hour (h/t Dave Doyle of MMAfighting.com) that he is ready to prove his detractors wrong.
"I need this, this could almost become the defining moment of my career, through all the good, the bad and the ugly. If I do this the way I'm supposed to, the way I can, the world will start following," Vera said. "I'm not ready to let my story come to an end. I'm not ready to retire, I'm not ready to hang up the gloves."
That is different tune coming from the 34-year-old, who at one point was hailed as the future of the heavyweight division after beginning his UFC tenure at 4-0. But recently "The Truth" has declined, compiling a record of 1-2-1.
But he believes he has rediscovered the passion inside of him, something that was rarely seen since his early days in the company.
He is ready to prove himself against the former Pride FC standout and shut the critics up, too.
"After my performance against Eliot Marshall they're supposed to be counting me out. I'm supposed to show up and get my ass whupped. That's what's supposed to happen. But it's not going down like that on August 4. Everyone is expecting me not to beat him. I don't mind being the underdog, that's when I'm at my best," he said.
Everyone likes an underdog story, however Vera might be biting off more than he can chew against the Brazilian. The truth is that Vera has not looked remotely capable of competing against some of the 205-pound-division's elite fighters, let alone defeat them.
Vera is reaching his mid-30s and is no longer the same fighter he once was. Rua is no spring chicken either, as he has looked rather vulnerable in some of his past fights, too, but one would expect "Shogun" to pull off the victory with ease.
If Vera does walk away with the win, it doesn't put him anywhere near the top of the division, but it will have fans believing in the hype and finally take him seriously.
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