by Ivan Trembow – MMAWeekly.com
Brandon Vera, who is widely regarded as the number one contender for a title shot in the UFC’s heavyweight division, was in attendance at the press conference that was held by new MMA promotion Elite Xtreme Combat and Showtime Networks on Thursday in Hollywood, California.
According to the Los Angeles Times, Vera met with Elite XC president and longtime boxing promoter Gary Shaw on Thursday. Vera told the press that he has one fight remaining on his UFC contract, and that he wants his next contract to be with “whoever wants to take care of me the best.”
When asked about competition among MMA promotions in an interview with the Orange County Register, Vera said, “How long have McDonald’s and Burger King been around? Yeah, hell yeah, competition is definitely good. It helps the fighters in more ways than one. It helps us get paid better. You know, we can ask for more money, we can ask for more promotional stuff. By having competition out there, it’s good for everybody, I believe… [it's good for] the companies because it creates more awareness of MMA, and [it's good for] the fighters because it gives us leverage a little bit… a little bit (laughs). It doesn’t give us a lot of leverage, but it gives us some.”
The undefeated Vera is 4-0 in his UFC campaign, with victories over Fabiano Scherner, Justin Eilers, Assureio Silva, and Frank Mir. In his most recent fight, Vera scored an impressive TKO victory over Mir at UFC 65 last month. Vera was paid $40,000 for the fight ($20,000 for fighting and an additional $20,000 for winning).
Vera was expected to get the next shot at the title of UFC Heavyweight Champion Tim Sylvia, but Zuffa has a logical policy in place of not giving title shots to fighters who are not under multi-fight contracts, so Vera is not going to get a title shot unless he signs a multi-fight contract extension.
If Vera does sign an extension, then he is still very likely to be the next fighter to challenge for the UFC Heavyweight Title, assuming that the UFC is also successful in extending Sylvia’s contract. If Sylvia signs a multi-fight contract extension and Vera doesn’t, the next logical challenger for the title among the UFC’s current crop of heavyweights would be the winner of the UFC 66 fight between Andrei Arlovski and Marcio “Pe de Pano” Cruz, although Sylvia and Arlovski have already fought each other three times.
The Los Angeles Times also quoted Vera’s manager, Mark Dion, as saying, “If UFC wants to keep all of its fighters in house, they can, but it’s people like [Elite XC], who have money and a platform like Showtime, who will compete for fighters now. This is the first time UFC is not the monopoly.”
Zuffa president Dana White seemed to dismiss the talk of Vera signing with Elite XC when he said in the same Los Angeles Times article, “I’ve never lost a big star in my six years here.”
White also said regarding Elite XC’s promoters, “A couple other organizations, who had more talent, with guys who knew more, have already tried to do what these guys are, and they’ve failed. These guys don’t know the difference between MMA and thumb wrestling.”