It’s funny how small events can make big differences in the MMA world. A young rising star named Brandon Vera (or his manager depending on who you believe) holds out on the UFC for more moneyz. Truth got to get paid, son! Anyhows, this changes the heavyweight game plan for the UFC : originally Brandon was supposed to face Tim Sylvia at UFC66. Because of the contractual struggle, that wasn’t about to happen. I’m sure Dana was already working on all of the signings which have now been revealed … Herring, Crocop, Nogueria, Werdum, etc. So he wasn’t about to cave for the guy who’s biggest win was against a flabby Frank Mir. The only issue was what to do about UFC66. Enter Randy Couture, who turned things on their heads by beating Tim Sylvia.
Now things are completely different. Where Brandon Vera was once at the top of the UFC heavyweight food chain, now he’d be lucky to be considered in the top 5. Who knows how many extremely difficult opponents he’ll have to face before getting back to the spot he occupied a mere six months ago by proxy. It’s too early to say if Vera will live up to the hype and initial promise he’s shown, or if he’ll be exposed as a nothing more than a middle talent fighter who did well in a weak division. But one thing is for sure : Brandon Vera had a window of opportunity to become the UFC heavyweight champion, and he lost it. The relatively easy path that once lay before him is gone, and now he’s going to have to claw his way back to the top.