Sporting an undefeated record through his first eight fights, UFC light heavyweight competitor Brandon Vera has now dropped three out of his last four bouts and seems to be at a crossroads for his future with the promotion.
Always confident before his fights, Vera quickly became a fan favorite early in his career with his exciting style and killer instinct that earned him wins over top opponents like Frank Mir while competing at heavyweight.
Now after two fights at 205 pounds, Vera is 1-1 with two fairly lackluster fights and UFC president Dana White commented on the fighter's performance after his loss to Keith Jardine on Saturday night in England.
"Brandon Vera, it's like he lost something," White commented. "That year off, I don't know what it was. He doesn't have that killer instinct, he doesn't go after it. This kid used to be so cocky, and you know he wanted to fight everybody."
In a pre-fight interview with MMAWeekly.com, Vera mentioned that after his fight with Jardine he would have one fight remaining on his current contract. But has he lost some of his negotiating power after his last two performances in a 205-pound weight class that seems to add new talent with almost every show?
White also mentioned the promotion's wish to get Vera on The Ultimate Fighter early in his career, but now questions where he's headed after the loss to Jardine.
"We were trying to get him on one of the seasons of The Ultimate Fighter and he was like, 'Ultimate Fighter, I want to fight Chuck Liddell. I'll knock him out today,'" White said at the post-fight press conference. "And I was like, 'I [expletive] hear that seven days a week, okay? Go on The Ultimate Fighter and we'll find out how good you are.'
"He was good, he was walking through heavyweights. Took that year off, all the contract stuff, hasn't been the same guy since. I don't know what's wrong with him."
There was a very public dispute during Vera's last contract negotiation that saw him split from former manager, Mark Dion, while taking a long layoff between fights before coming back and suffering his first professional loss, to Tim Sylvia in October of 2007.
As more and more fighters make their way up the ranks of a stacked light heavyweight division, Vera will need to pull off an impressive win in his next bout for sure, or he may be lost in a very muddied sea of contenders looking for a big fight.