by Damon Martin – MMAWeekly.com
It wasn’t long ago that Brandon Vera was being referred to as the future of the sport, and possibly the first ever two weight class champion. Now years after his debut, Vera has settled into the 205-pound division, and is working his way back to contender status, while a new lion has entered the arena with much of the same hype.
After an explosive first few fights in the UFC, Jon “Bones” Jones is now being referred to as the future of the light heavyweight division, and he’ll meet Vera in the main event of the upcoming UFC on Versus 1 show in Broomfield, Colo. While Jones appreciates the accolades, he’s humble enough to realize it’s all just words unless he performs.
“I try not to think about it at all,” Jones said about the expectations laid at his doorstep. “I work really hard, I train really hard, and when I’m not training I’m always thinking about fighting, and studying my opponents, and all kinds of stuff. So I’m kind of like the MMA geek, and I realize being so obsessed with this sport, all the other kinds of stuff comes with it. So I try to keep it real with myself. Ultimately, at the end of the day, it’s about my kids and my family at home.”
The New York native is quick to point out that the hype around a fighter can be both a blessing and a curse. He explained further when talking about the quick turn some fans gave UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva just last year.
“I know MMA fans are brutal,” said Jones. “Like Anderson Silva was my idol, he was the man, everyone loved him, he’s the best thing since sliced bread, and then when he couldn’t finish Thales Leites the fans just switched up on him right away. Saying that he’s washed up, saying that he didn’t have it anymore, so I know that MMA fans can be brutal.
“I can be God’s gift to the world or the second coming of Jesus Christ, and then the next day I can be nothing. So I try to keep my head on straight, realize what I’m here for, and just try to improve every day and not really worry about people having high expectations for me.”
Been there and done that is the best way to describe Vera’s turn as the “next big thing” as the brash young Californian burst onto the scene with several big wins, including a knockout of former UFC heavyweight champion Frank Mir. Now 2-2 in his last four fights, Vera has had the tables turned on him a little bit, but he’s ready to show people who have forgotten him what the “Truth” is all about.
“I did say I was going to hold the light heavyweight championship belt and the heavyweight championship belt,” Vera said about his early talk when entering the UFC. “I guess this is kind of a way to re-introduce myself back to the world. I’m not playing no games, I’m back on track.”
With a chance to rebuild himself in the division, Vera will try to take the hype away from Jones and prove that he can still be the next big thing.
Vera and Jones will square off in the main event of UFC on Versus 1 on March 21 in Broomfield, Colo.