Vera was a fast-rising contender in the UFC heavyweight division until back-to-back losses to Tim Sylvia and Fabricio Werdum inspired him to give 205 a shot. But Vera’s eight-fight stretch at light-heavyweight has done nothing to raise his stock. Though the Truth has beaten up entry-level competition like Reese Andy and Mike Patt, he hasn’t been able to win any high-profile fight, and has collected losses to Keith Jardine, Randy Couture, and Jon Jones along the way. Thank God for steroid busts, or Vera wouldn’t even have a UFC contract right now.
Though he was never able to grab the golden ring, Kenny Florian became a perennial contender at 155, finishing eight out of his 12 opponents as a UFC lightweight. A decision loss to Gray Maynard in a title eliminator at UFC 118 finally sent Ken-Flo packing to featherweight — his fourth weight class in the UFC, after entering the promotion as a water-logged middleweight on TUF 1. Florian scored a decision win over Diego Nunes in his first fight at 145, but the cut was a nightmare. Though he remained in the division to finish what he started and challenge Jose Aldo for the belt, Florian’s title-curse struck again and he was out-scored four rounds to one by Aldo at UFC 136. Following the loss, Florian gave up on making featherweight for good.
After three straight losses at lightweight, Tyson Griffin attempted to right the ship by moving to 145. It started out positively enough, with Griffin winning a majority decision in his featherweight debut against Manny Gamburyan last June. Then, he missed weight and got steamrolled by Bart Palaszewski at UFC 137. With four losses in his last five attempts, it’s not immediately clear where Griffin’s MMA future lies. See also: Joe Stevenson’s one-and-done stint at featherweight, Yoshihiro Akiyama’s failed welterweight experiment
Every time we talk about bad weight cuts, the Sandman’s name always comes up. Already a lean, mean 205′er, Irvin tried his hand at making 185 following an extended layoff due to a painkiller suspension and subsequent knee injuries. Once Irvin hit the scales at Vera vs. Jones, it was quickly apparent that starving and dehydrating himself was probably not going to be his path to a title shot. Irvin got dunced in short order by Alessio Sakara; a follow-up loss to Igor Pokrajac back at light-heavyweight earned Irvin his third-consecutive loss and his release by the UFC. Though James Irvin’s brief and hideous middleweight campaign should have served as a warning, he actually signed up for another middleweight bout last March at KSW 15, missed weight by 7 pounds and got arm-barred in 33 seconds.
In retrospect, the Dean of Mean should have taken a tune-up fight at 185 before facing Strikeforce’s nastiest middleweight. Jardine’s UFC career ended after four consecutive losses at light-heavyweight, which he followed with a 2-1-1 stint outside the Octagon, including a decision loss to Trevor Prangley, and an utter beating (or, “draw”) at the hands of Gegard Mousasi. Jardine vowed to relaunch his career at middleweight, and was gifted with an immediate Strikeforce title shot when Tim Kennedy suffered an injury. Well, maybe “gifted” is the wrong word, and “cursed” is a better one. Luke Rockhold wrecked Jardine within one round, and Jardine hasn’t been heard from since.