Mixed martial artists come from every corner of the globe, bearing a variety of styles. Sometimes, fighters are products of their environment, favoring disciplines prevalent in the country or state from which they hail. Various regions of the United States are considered factories for great fighters, though that certainly is not the case with each state. In this weekly Sherdog.com series, the spotlight will shine on the best mixed martial artist of all-time from each of the 50 states. Fighters do not necessarily need to be born in a given state to represent it; they simply need to be associated with it.
Brandon Vera burst on the Ultimate Fighting Championship scene with plenty of hype behind him -- and for good reason. The Norfolk, Virginia, had athleticism to burn and the well-rounded skills to match it. “The Truth” became an instant fan favorite when he torched his first three UFC opponents and then knocked out former heavyweight champion Frank Mir in just 69 seconds.
Unfortunately for Vera, he never met the great expectations -- there was talk of his becoming a two-division champion at one point -- that were placed upon him. Losses to Tim Sylvia, Fabricio Werdum and Keith Jardine in a four-fight span curtailed his progress, and later defeats to Randy Couture, Jon Jones, Mauricio Rua and Ben Rothwell resulted in his being released by the UFC in 2013.
Vera has since gone on to stardom under the One Championship banner, resurrecting his career and capturing the Singapore-based organization’s heavyweight crown. He finds himself on a three-fight winning streak and last appeared at One Championship “Age of Domination” on Dec. 2, when he stopped Hideki Sekine to retain his title with a first-round body kick and punches. Vera turns 40 in October.
HONORABLE MENTIONS: Ryan Hall, Amir Sadollah