Some fighters pride themselves on familiarizing themselves with their opponents, others just like to fight, and most are somewhere in between, but very few memorize nearly every detail of their opponent like Fury FC’s Carlos Vera.
Going into every fight, Vera gets a hold of as much footage as he can get his hands on and starts to break down exactly what type of fighter his opponent is. When the casual fight fan reads this, they may think they understand what “understanding the opponent” means, but Carlos Vera’s fight prep goes far beyond that of most people.
There’s a whole process to Vera’s prep.
Step 1: What kind of person are they?
“My opponent Kale Moniz is a gritty son of a gun,” Vera said. “He doesn’t give up. There’s a fight where he looked like he was going to lose, and out of the blue he took the guy’s back and choked him out. The first thing we have to see is what kind of person am I fighting?”
Step 2: What tools do they have?
“This guy’s got a very big and heavy right hand and a heavy right leg kick,” Vera explained. “He’s not as mobile as other fighters. He’s mobile but he needs a little bit more plant and fire, so he needs to be very steady and root himself to the ground. On the ground he’s very strong. We haven’t seen a lot of his technique on the ground. He doesn’t seem to be as technical but he does seem to be very strong and he makes that work.”
Step 3: Matchups
“How would his style do against my style?” Vera asks himself. “I’m more of a movement-based fighter with long-range and kicks. I’m fairly competent in jiu jitsu, so we kind of create scenarios and prepare adequately.”
While making it very clear to any and everybody that he’s a fighter first, Vera explains that the martial artist in him sees fights from more angles than simply, ‘am I tougher than this person?’ The science and attention to detail has led him to a Fury FC main event and a 10-3 record, but it does come with some potential issues.
If you watch your opponent knocking people out over and over and over for multiple weeks leading up to a fight, how do you not make a monster out of them before even finding out for yourself?
Thanks to an appreciation for the process and sports psychology, Vera is able to avoid that exact possibility.
“Moniz has literally finished all of his opponents,” Vera explained. “Which is awesome and I’m really excited to fight somebody who’s that much of a finisher, but it does initially give you a little bit of butterflies in your stomach like, ‘oh s**t. This guy is for real. This is what he does.’ It’s not just what he does but it’s also how does he make that happen and how can I break that down? A fighter doesn’t magically have a tool he can use against somebody. He has a tool he has mastered, and he will create scenarios and execute it efficiently.”
Few fighters in modern day MMA enter the cage with the exact same style and gameplan every fight. Is it possible to be left stranded when you go into the cage expecting one opponent and standing across from another?
Yes and no.
Yes, for most fighters; no, for fighters like Carlos Vera. He may not win every fight, but he’ll always be prepared to face the best form of every fighter in front of him.
“When I’m not in camp fighting one person I’m busy studying archetypes,” Vera said. “You have your boxer/wrestlers, you have your jiu jitsu guys, then you have your kickboxers, then you have your combination guys. So if his style changes, my gameplan will, for the most part, stay the same but I’ll make quick adjustments. If we have to make a switch, we make a switch. If I break my hand and have to become a grappler, you best believe I can become a grappler.”
If styles make matchups, Carlos Vera fancies himself a rough day out for anybody. It’s his training and film study that he has to thank for that.
Catch Carlos Vera in the main event of Fury FC 60 Sunday, April 24, ONLY on UFC FIGHT PASS!