Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2009 | midnight
Brandon Vera wasn't high on the idea of fighting on the UFC 105 card at first, because it would mean he would get virtually no break after fighting at UFC 101 in August.
But, he said, he couldn't pass up an opportunity to fight Randy Couture.
In Los Angeles for UFC 104, Vera took the time to answer questions about Couture and his career.
Q: What was your reaction to fighting Randy Couture?
Vera: Randy’s a hero. When they first told me I was going to fight in 105, I was like, “Hell, no. That’s nine weeks from now. I just got done fighting (at UFC 101)." Then they said I’d be fighting Randy and I was like, “Oh yeah, I’ll fight Randy.”
I always knew at some point in my career I would fight Randy. He’s one of the best. If you’re on a certain path, you’re going to have to cross certain people. I’ve told everyone it’s like a dream and a nightmare coming true at the same time.
Q: What do you respect most about Randy?
Vera: He’s broken all barriers. There is no "old" now. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if he fought until he was 51. The fights in the old dog. But I’ve got to go in and touch that chin, see how much is left in Randy.
Q: Are you worried that your respect for Randy will affect the way you fight?
Vera: When they raise my hand, I want Randy to look over and be like, "That (expletive).” I want him to be proud of me for turning into the fighter I always talked about being. He’s been there and watched me run my mouth at the Olympic training center. I want him to experience it first hand and say to himself, “He’s going where he said he was going to go.”
Q: You went through a period where you lost focus. What happened to snap you back to your career?
Vera: The easiest way for a fighter to realize his head is getting too big is to get...whooped in the Octagon. That never happened to me. Nobody ever pounded me into the ground, so I never got the hard lesson I guess you could say.
But I remember I was sitting down by my pool table and it just came to me. In school they make you write essays on where you’ll be in five years, and I wasn’t where I was supposed to be. I was reading the media hype, watching myspace stuff, believing all the (expletive). After the (Keith) Jardine fight, I remember thinking, “I’m technically better than him. How did he beat me?” He worked harder.
Q: What is your mindset moving forward in your career?
Vera: When I was a 19-year-old wrestler, I was rolling with the top three or five guys in the world at the Olympic training center. I was on top of the world, and I never realized my full potential.
After the Jardine fight, I asked my coach if I had reached my full potential. He started laughing and said, “No, son. Nowhere near it.” I didn’t say it, but I wanted to ask, “Are you sure?” Now I know, no, I haven’t reached my full potential. I don’t even know what it is. I feel like I have five more years. I have a five-year plan and I’m excited to see what happens.
Q: You dropped to 205 from the heavyweight division. Is there still a desire to compete in the heavyweight division if you become light heavyweight champion?
Vera: I want to hold the belt at the same time in two weight classes. I want to do something ridiculous that nobody has ever done before. In the movie "Troy", there’s a scene where a little boy comes and finds Brad Pitt and says the general wants him to fight a guy that’s a giant, and he’d never want to fight him. And Brad Pitt looks at the boy and says, "That’s why the world will never know your name." I want to be that guy. I want to be the guy that said he’d do it and, yeah, that (expletive) did it.
Brett Okamoto can be reached at 948-7817 or firstname.lastname@example.org.