This one is official.
Brandon Vera is headed back to the Octagon after nearly a 12-month layoff, according to UFC.com.
The undefeated heavyweight could return as early as October, which would put him on the UFC 77: "Hostile Territory" card in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Here's the snip:
"... rising heavyweight star Brandon 'The Truth' Vera ... will finally return to the Ultimate Fighting ChampionshipÃ‚Â® (UFCÃ‚Â®) organization.... Dana White, UFC President, who was pleased to make the announcement of Vera's return today, expects the Californian to be back in action as soon as October of this year."
It's an interesting scenario, considering the fight card is almost complete.
Former UFC heavyweight champion Tim Sylvia, however, has been rumored to also make his return from back surgery that same night at the U.S. Bank Arena. The two were supposed to clash at UFC 68 earlier this year, but negotiations fell apart and Randy Couture took his spot.
The rest, as you know, is history.
Another former division titleholder, Andrei Arlovski, is also a possible opponent for "The Truth." In fact, we first passed along speculation that a fight was in the works for UFC 78 in November.
Unfortunately, no match up at this point has been confirmed. But this latest news is a giant step forward in terms of seeing the talented Filipino-American back in action. It's only a matter of time before we get an official announcement.
In the meantime, fans can breath a sigh of relief, including the head honcho himself.
Here's a snip from White:
"Brandon Vera is a young, well-rounded, exciting heavyweight who finishes fights in exciting fashion. I think he brings a lot to the heavyweight mix, and I see him in a position to fight for the heavyweight title in 2008."
There was no indication in the press release as to whether or not Vera signed a contract extension -- he had one fight left on his deal. However, if White is talking about him fighting in October and in 2008, then we can surmise that he is indeed locked up for a few more fights.
Here's a snip from Vera:
"I'm so excited to be back in the UFC, I have no words to describe the feeling. I realize the UFC heavyweight division is much stronger now, but I like having more challenges, and that just gives me more motivation to train. I feel that when I'm on top of my game, nobody can beat me. I have a plan to become the heavyweight champion, so I'm going to stick to the plan that my management team NCFC and both of my coaches set and win the titles. I want to prove I'm the best for my family, my friends and most of all my fans."
The management and contract issues that dogged Vera for the better part of the year are now in the rear-view mirror. It's good to see him back. He's got his work cut out for him, however, to say the least -- things have changed drastically in the division during his absence.
To follow this story from the beginning check out our Brandon Vera archive.