|In the biggest fight of his career, Brandon Vera faces Randy Couture in the main event of UFC 105. (UFC photo)
Like most athletes, mixed martial arts fighters have rituals to get themselves ready prior to competing.
Some prefer to go over their game plan with coaches, while others may meditate to stay relaxed and focused.
Whether he likes it or not, Brandon (The Truth) Vera vomits before each bout.
"Yeah, I throw up every fight," Vera said. "Who knows (what causes it) -- nerves, excitement...the anticipation? It could be a whole bunch of different things; I don't know. I just know that if I stop throwing up, it's bad.
"It goes away as soon as they open up the curtain and I'm on that long walk to the cage. It goes away instantly."
For Vera (11-3), Saturday night will likely involve the usual pre-fight regurgitation as he waits to enter the octagon against Randy (The Natural) Couture for the main event of UFC 105 in Manchester, England.
A talented Muay Thai striker with devastating leg kicks, Vera is quick to point out he has the utmost respect for Couture. However, when the bell rings he won't hesitate to hit the MMA legend.
"Randy deserves all the respect in the world; he is the man," Vera said. "But come fight night, Randy is trying to whoop my ass -- and he's handed out some good ones. I don't ever want to be on the receiving end of that. So I'll be damned if I'm going to be holding back at all."
Following back-to-back losses in the heavyweight division to Brock Lesnar and Antonio Rodrigo (Minotauro) Nogueira, Couture (16-10) will be competing against Vera at 205 pounds. This marks his first bout at light-heavyweight since UFC 57 in Feb. 2006, when he was knocked out by Chuck (The Iceman) Liddell.
Couture admits he had difficulty packing on the additional pounds necessary to hang with bigger fighters. He feels light-heavyweight is the natural weight class at this stage of his career.
"I walk around normally at about 220 to 230 pounds," Couture said. "It hasn't been difficult (cutting weight). I had back-to-back camps and the weight just came off. I'm walking around at about 216 pounds the whole camp. So I haven't had to do anything special or refine my eating habits."
The bout marks a clash of styles. The key to success for Vera will be to keep Couture at a distance and pick him apart with kicks to the legs and body. However, Couture will no doubt aim to close the gap and use his Greco-Roman wrestling skills to put the tough Filipino on his back.
Though Vera doesn't exactly welcome the clinch game, he feels he's prepared for it. For him, the biggest challenge will be breaking Couture out of his game plan.
"(He brings) a lot of experience and it's really hard to come up with something Randy hasn't seen before," Vera said. "But the game plan is the exact opposite of what Randy's is. It's two different styles and we'll have to see what happens on Saturday night."
A master at piecing together game plans, Couture feels he knows what to expect from Vera.
"He's a very strategic striker," Couture said. "He switches leads and throws good, long, straight punches and has good kicks -- both low and high. I don't expect he's going to change that just because he's (fighting) me.
"I've enjoyed watching Brandon fight. I've enjoyed his style of fighting and he's beaten some very good guys."