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History in the Making: Brandon Vera explodes onto the UFC scene with four stoppage victories

Photo of Brandon Vera by Esther Lin for <a href="">SBNation</a>.
Photo of Brandon Vera by Esther Lin for SBNation.

Brandon Vera once infamously claimed he would be the first man to simultaneously hold the Ultimate Fighting Championship's (UFC) heavyweight and light heavyweight titles.

If you judge him by his first four fights inside the Octagon, that statement isn't as crazy as one would believe.

That's because he exploded onto the scene racking up victories as easy as anyone before him ever had. He dispatched of his opponents in often brutal fashion, leaving them bloody thanks to a knockout or deflated courtesy of a submission.

But since then, he's gone 4-5-1 and was actually cut following his loss to Thiago Silva at UFC 125. A positive drug test for the Brazilian overturned the result and offered Vera a reprieve.

"The Truth" has the opportunity to put his career back on the right path when he faces off against Mauricio Rua in the main event of this Saturday's (Aug. 4, 2012) UFC on Fox 4 mixed martial arts (MMA) event from the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. UFC President Dana White has already stated the next challenger for Jon Jones (or perhaps Dan Henderson) can present himself this weekend.

Before Vera goes toe-to-toe with "Shogun," let's take a look at Vera's first four bouts under the UFC banner, each a stoppage victory for the man who once showed unlimited promise.

Let's dive in:

In the latter half of 2005, Vera made his UFC debut following a pre-Zuffa World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) heavyweight tournament win.

His first opponent was Brazilian Fabiano Scherner who himself was enjoying a nice win streak on the regional circuit and was also making his first Octagon appearance. Vera would spoil the Brazilian's debut in the second round by wrapping him up in a Thai clinch and delivering a vicious knee to the skull.

Four months later, "The Truth" found himself inside the cage with heavy-handed Justin Eilers. Vera would be even more impressive the second time around.

In less than 1.5 minutes, a missile of a head kick connected with Eilers' skull. It didn't land flush, however, and it seemed the former heavyweight title contender would be able to shrug it off. But, as his upper body began to sink toward the mat, it was obvious the strike had done more than enough damage.

It was at least obvious to Vera who stormed Eilers and put him to sleep with a devastating knee to the head forcing his opponent to collapse onto the mat.

At UFC 60, "The Truth" took on another Brazilian in Assuerio Silva, looking to make his UFC record a perfect 3-0. After half a round of feeling each other out with kicks, Silva took advantage of a slip from Vera and took the fight to the canvas. But his opponent managed to quickly regain his footing against the cage.

Hoping to take the fight back down, the Brazilian dipped low and grabbed a hold of one of Vera's legs. In doing so, he left his neck wide open for a guillotine that "The Truth" was more than happy to oblige him with.

Three impressive stoppage victories from Vera definitely caught the UFC's eye and in his fourth bout, he faced former heavyweight champion Frank Mir. The Las Vegas native hadn't looked all that great since returning from a motorcycle accident and perhaps, this fight was seen as a passing of the torch of sorts.

That seemed just fine with Vera.

It took him only 69 seconds to pound out Mir, leaving the former and future champ a total bloody mess. He immediately stifled Mir with his stand up before delivering a knee that dropped him to the canvas. From there, the Muay Thai fighter controlled his opponent from sidemount while delivering a volley of strikes leading to the finish.

Vera was on the brink of something big.

Unfortunately for "The Truth," something big meant Tim Sylvia and Fabricio Werdum, honest to goodness heavyweights who handed him back-to-back losses.

He dropped to 205-pounds after that and has been there, through thick and thin, ever since. And now, much like he was when he stepped inside the cage against Sylvia, he stands -- somehow -- on the cusp of a title shot.

Will Vera be able to exorcise the ghosts of the past and finally fulfill his self-professed destiny?

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