(One of the moments that made Brandon Vera go “MMA isn’t as much fun as it used to be…”)

Talk all the sh*t you want about Vitor Belfort and how inconsistent he’s been over his career. But at least he keeps swinging back into greatness and reminding people how awesome he can be when he’s properly focused on things. Brandon Vera, on the other hand, has been consistently awful since sitting out nearly a year in a contract dispute with the UFC. For the past five years he’s sucked big dangly grandpa balls over and over again. And before each new slurping, he keeps telling us how everything is going to be different this time. Leading up to his ritual sacrifice on FOX to the one known as Shogun, it’s no different:

“My story is told over and over again in the sport of MMA,” Vera said at a recent media luncheon. “But not too many people get a second chance to redeem themselves or make it happen. I don’t want to say this is a new Brandon Vera. This is the Brandon Vera who should have always been.”

Vera’s Alliance campmates even attempted an intervention. “I don’t remember which fight it was, but they pulled me outside,” Vera said. “All my training partners said ‘Brandon, you don’t have it any more, you don’t have the fire anymore like you used to.’ I was like, ‘What the [expletive] are you talking about, are you serious? I want to fight.’ But I know what they meant, now.”

“I think this fight with Shogun is probably my single most important fight in the UFC,” Vera said. “More important than my first fight in the UFC. More important than my fight with Tim Sylvia, more important than my fight with Randy Couture. You know, looking back at the peaks and valleys and ups and downs of my career, this is a blessing in disguise, this is something that can put me back on track. This one fight can correct all my issues. All my indiscretions and me just being a dumbass and not taking the fight game as serious as I should have since day one. This is a huge fight for me.”

Wouldn’t it be great if that was actually true? I don’t even need to see Vera win to believe he’s turned things around. Just a few ounces of actual aggression and brutal muay thai will be enough to make start thinking he’s into fighting and not just all about cashing checks. What do you think? Will Brandon show up to fight? Or will he stink up the joint with his patented blend of feinting, stalling, and general crappiness?