Photo: Brandon Vera, Credit: Dave Mandel, Sherdog.com
We are less than a week away from UFC's fourth event of FOX, and I have a feeling that there aren't many people that are anticipating the event more than Brandon Vera. This is the opportunity of a lifetime for the 34 year-old. Potentially, the last opportunity he will ever get.
Many people are counting out Brandon Vera in his upcoming main event fight against Mauricio "Shogun" Rua, and for good reason, Vera has looked sub-par at best in his last five fights while his opponent is one the premier fighters in the world.
Nevertheless, anything can happen this Saturday night. Mixed Martial Arts is a sport that is filled with upsets. Who could forget Matt Serra shocking the world by knocking out George St. Pierre at UFC 69, Fabricio Werdum submitting the "invincible" Fedor Emelianenko, or even Forrest Griffin submitting Mauricio Rua at UFC 76?
Anything can happen this Saturday. Brandon Vera could get annihilated and embarrassed on live TV by Shogun in a matter of minutes. "The Truth" could be on the receiving end of a five round beating. He could also shock the world and beat Shogun.
Let's say the last scenario plays out. Let's say Brandon Vera shocks the world by beating Shogun. How does it happen? How could Brandon Vera do it?
The obvious answers would be a lucky one punch knockout that catches Shogun at the right moment or a lucky guillotine choke submission as a result of a lazy takedown by Rua. But are there any scenarios of Vera winning without luck? I think they are two.
The first scenario would be on the feet. Granted, Shogun is a much better striker than Vera. He's quicker, more powerful, and more accurate, but Vera might be able to outpoint Rua on the feet if he plays it smart.
Vera would have to utilize his reach advantage over Shogun by connecting with his jab and leg kicks from outside of the pocket. Shogun has a tendency to put together multiple combinations at once, and Vera would have to avoid those explosions and connect from the outside.
Although his defensive wrestling game leaves more to be desired, Vera has a solid offensive clinch game, and he could also get his hand raised if he makes the fight a dirty, clinch war. Shogun is also nasty inside of the clinch, but Vera's size and strength advantage could help him control Shogun against the cage.
Neither scenario sounds appealing to the viewers, but I doubt Vera cares about that. In order for him to beat Shogun, he is going to have to fight with a defensive, cautious approach.
Do I think Brandon Vera is going to pull it the upset off this Saturday? No, I don't. I think Shogun is going make a statement victory over Vera, but I also thought that George St. Pierre was going to run through Matt Serra at UFC 69.
The bottom line is that once that initial horn sounds to start the bout, records and predictions mean nothing. Anything can happen.