Nearly ten months after being cut from the UFC for losing to Thiago Silva at UFC 125, Brandon Vera will finally get his chance to re-establish himself in the UFC light-heavyweight division. Vera’s loss to Silva was overturned to a No Contest after the Nevada State Athletic Commission found that Silva’s drug test turned out to be “inconsistent with human urine.” Vera was brought back, and now has an opportunity to show the UFC audience that he still has what it takes to compete.
Vera was a fighter who received a lot of hype after an 8-0 career start, culminating in three first-round victories in a row: a head kick KO of Justin Eilers, a guillotine choke submission of Assuerio Silva, and especially a 69-second TKO win over Frank Mir. A lot of people saw Vera as a potential heavyweight champion, but a long layoff featuring a very public dispute with Vera’s manager was followed by a disappointing decision loss to Tim Sylvia. Beginning with the Sylvia fight, Vera is 3-5, beating only Reese Andy, Michael Patt, and Krzysztof Soszynski.
What I find frustrating about Vera is that he doesn’t seem very good at putting attacks together. Vera will throw a very good kick, but then that’s it. He’ll throw a punch, or a knee, but won’t follow it up. Part of the reason Vera was getting so much hype earlier in his career was that he showed skill in every area: striking, wrestling, the clinch game, and the ground game. For some reason, he just seems like he hesitates far too much. I’d love to see what Vera could do if he would let his techniques go and just fight, but I’ve seen enough Vera fights to know that he’s not going to change much.
Vera’s opponent at UFC 137 will be Eliot Marshall, a fighter I just can’t seem to figure out. Sometimes, Marshall looks like he could really be competitive in the UFC, beating Jason Brilz and losing to Vladimir Matyushenko by split decision. But at other times, Marshall does something like get blitzed by Luiz Cane and lose quickly in the first round at UFC 128. Marshall is a very good grappler, but only an OK striker, and not much of a wrestler. From a pure talent perspective, Marshall isn’t competitive with Vera.
Where Marshall also isn’t competitive with Vera is in his number of quality wins. While Marshall took Brilz and Matyushenko to split decisions, the win against Brilz is the only win on Marshall’s record that’s a truly quality win. Vera, on the other hand, has a lot more experience against tough competition, and despite his recent record, a lot more success as well.
SILVA PREDICTION: BRANDON VERA (30.05) OVER ELIOT MARSHALL (29.64)
I like Vera by a greater margin than SILVA would indicate; while it may be frustrating for me to watch Vera fight, he is simply the more talented fighter here, and has proven himself to a greater degree than Marshall is. Marshall might have better skills on the ground, but it’s hard for me to see Marshall out-striking Vera, or out-wrestling Vera. I see Vera controlling this fight, and hopefully unleashing the talent he has more than he did in the recent past.