If you watched Brandon Vera’s last fight — a three-round decision loss to Tim Sylvia in which Vera broke a bone in his hand early on — chances are you were bored. Well, Vera doesn’t blame you. In fact, he’d like to apologize.
“I wanted to punch Tim so hard,” he recently told MMA Weekly. “I should have just kept touching and moving, instead of trying to light him up early. He started hitting me; I couldn’t hit him back. I started throwing short elbows to try and catch him on his way in. I sucked. That was one of the most boring fights ever. I’m ashamed to have been a part of it.”
That’s refreshing. It was one of the most boring fights in recent memory (I wouldn’t say ‘ever’, so maybe Vera is a little too hard on himself), and as lame as it sounds, as a fan I appreciate Vera saying so. It’s a nice departure from the standard Tim Sylvia line, which usually mentions something about a game plan and something else about how all he cares about is winning, no matter what the fans think of his performance.
Vera, unlike Sylvia, seems to realize an important part of the fight game: the fans make you. It may be Dana White’s signature on your mysterious bonus check (for an undisclosed amount of money) at the end of the night, but it’s really an indirect way of rewarding you for making the fans happy. Fighters for whom putting on a show is a priority do well, even if they don’t win every time out. They are entertainers, and entertainers stick around, sometimes well past the point where they are competitive.
Vera seems to have struggled emotionally with his loss to Sylvia, especially because his hand injury will likely keep him out until May. In the meantime he has to watch Sylvia and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira battle it out for the heavyweight title vacated by Randy Couture. But Vera is the kind of guy who will undoubtedly be back. If he’s smart he’d drop to light heavyweight for that return, but that’s another story.
Still, it’s hard not to appreciate a guy who’s willing to admit when he didn’t deliver. Tim Sylvia should be taking notes. The fans will forgive a poor performance if you sincerely want to do better. They’ll even forgive it more than once, but first you have to admit that you care what they think. And you do. God help you, Tim, you do.