San Diego Union Tribune by David Brooks
RATTLING CAGES – San Diegan Brandon Vera battles for Ultimate Fighting Championship

by David Brooks, Union-Tribune

Fighter Brandon Vera, 28, of San Diego has battled for several years to reach the center cage in the world of ultimate fighting. The road to recognition has been a hard-fought struggle from bout to bout, not only on the mat or in the cage, but also with contracts from the various promoters seeking a cheap fighter for a lucrative fight. He is mindful of the pitfalls and shady deals but depends on his manager, Mark Dion, owner of City Boxing in San Diego, to mull over the details.

At City Boxing, Vera is an instructor and student, devoting several hours to his craft. “I ask myself, what is my opponent doing right now? Training to fight � and that is what I gotta do,” Vera said. The octagon cage requires training in striking and grappling, so Vera cross-trains in both Muay Thai and jiujitsu; Muay Thai for the striking (kicking and punching with an emphasis on elbows and knees) and jiujitsu for grappling (wrestling with an emphasis on submission holds).

Vera’s opponent in his first UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championships) event, Fabiano Scherner of Brazil, a mass of brawn and muscle at 257 pounds, was a sizable obstacle. But in the second round, Vera brought Scherner down with a knee to the head. Under the lights and cameras of the Octagon in the Hard Rock Hotel in Las Vegas, Vera and his team climbed one rung closer to his goal of claiming the belt from current champion Chuck Liddell.

His second UFC fight, Feb. 4 at the Hard Rock Hotel in Las Vegas, is against a more experienced striker, Justin Eilers. But in a twist, Vera, the rookie, is favored to win. “Every fight was a chance to promote myself to get to the big show, and now I’m in, it’s my time to shine!” Vera said.