We are literally just hours away from tonight’s big UFC 96 card in Columbus, Ohio. Our multi-day series of previewing the card on a fight-by-fight basis continues with a light heavyweight matchup in which the loser could be sent packing from the UFC.
Brandon Vera (9-3) vs. Mike Patt (12-3)
Even though Vera will be competing under terms of a new contract with the UFC, it’s unlikely he will be retained if he loses this fight. In matching Vera up with Patt, the UFC is essentially giving the Lloyd Irvin brown belt a chance to convert a layup.
Once a rising star, Vera’s stock has plummeted almost as badly as the stock market. The 31-year old is just 1-3 in his last four fights and his lone win, a unanimous decision victory over Reese Andy at UFC Fight Night 14, proved to be a more effective sleep aid than Ambien.
In addition to once being a rising star, Vera at one time was one of the most entertaining fighters in all of MMA. This is a guy who began his UFC career 4-0 and fought like his hair was on fire (even though he doesn’t have any) when he demolished current interim UFC heavyweight champion Frank Mir in one minute and nine seconds at UFC 65.
The problem with Vera is that he began to fight like someone with a lot to lose. And while his job is at stake, his disappointing split decision loss against Keith Jardine at UFC 89 may have brought him down to rock bottom.
Vera will look to begin his comeback campaign against Patt, a member of Kerry Schall’s Meat Truck Inc., Patt, a native of nearby Dayton, also finds himself in a must-win situation, as he’ll be dropped from the UFC roster if he falls to 0-2.
Patt is a credible veteran but he will be no match for Vera’s strong kickboxing skills and won’t be able to match his underrated jiu-jitsu and wrestling ability. The only fighter that can beat Vera in this match is Vera himself.
Prediction: Brandon Vera via second round TKO.