Vera has new career perspective
This is the moment I have been waiting for. My mind is excited and nervous and my body is sore and prepared. Overall, I feel good, at peace and ready to make things happen Saturday, the night I face the legendary Mauricio "Shogun" Rua in the main event on UFC on FOX.
I've been preparing for this fight for 11 or 12 weeks. It's been a while since I last fought — way back in October, in fact — but I've used the time well and have really been enjoying my training of late. I've used the time to find myself and just train for fun, train the way I used to back in the day. When you're training for the sake of training, the whole sport becomes fun again. It feels like a game, a hobby. Even my coaches say I look happy in training now. Happier than before. They noticed the difference.
Of course, at some point you have to hit the switch, though. And the moment you learn that your next opponent will be Mauricio "Shogun" Rua is usually a pretty good impetus to get serious again.
When I got the call, my manager told me, "I got good news and better news." When it all broke, I got goose bumps when he told me that I had a chance to fight Shogun and headline on FOX. I’ve been given two massive chances and I will not let this slide.
This fight arrived at just the right time, and I honestly believe I am exactly where I'm supposed to be in 2012. Everything has happened to me for a reason. All the ups and all the downs. Those experiences have made me the man and fighter I am today.
All the trials and tribulations fade into the background when you get told you're fighting Shogun. That's all that matters to me right now. Everything in the past has brought me to this point, to this fight, and I'm thankful for it. I wouldn't want to be anywhere else at this moment in time. I've walked the path that has led to Shogun and I couldn't be happier.
To get here I needed to come through a mini-crisis in my last fight, an October win over Eliot Marshall. That fight didn't show me at my best by any means. However, it did offer me an epiphany, a moment of clarity. When Eliot had me in that horrible arm-bar, I let my arm go. At that moment I had a choice to make. Either tap-out and kiss goodbye to my UFC career, or somehow find a way out of trouble. I took the second option, and somewhere deep, down inside me a fire was lit. All the reasons why I started fighting in the first place came out and nudged me in the arm.
As the arm was released from the submission attempt and I punched him in the face, I almost felt reborn as a fighter. That will sound like a terrible cliché, I know, but it's honestly the truth. I experienced a feeling I hadn't experienced in a very long time.
The pain of the arm-bar itself was excruciating, of course. The best way of relating is to imagine a rubber band stretching and contorting and then imagine a piece of paper tearing. Once I felt the arm go, I knew I was screwed. There was nothing left to worry about, though. I just thought to myself, "Well, that's it, you may as well try and salvage something now." Eliot couldn't do any more damage to it, so I took a chance. I promise you, it never hurt during the fight itself. It was only when the fight ended and I sat down backstage that the pain struck me. I'd never felt pain like it.
In all honesty, I may have tapped from an arm-bar like that a few years ago. Eliot caught me with a beautiful arm-bar and, by rights, maybe I should have tapped. But I wasn't thinking like that during this particular fight. There was no choice for me. All or nothing. If I lost that fight my career was as good as over.
Most fighters try and play down the pressure of fighting in the UFC with their back to the wall, but, let me tell you, it sucks. If you know you've got to win a fight to save your UFC career, expect it to mess your head up, as well as your game plan. I don't care who you are. We're all human and we all care about winning.
Just think, a split-second decision proved the difference between me either never fighting in the UFC again or preparing to face Shogun Rua live on FOX. Thankfully, I was able to hang on and see the light.
Follow Brandon Vera on Twitter @Verafied