Before mixed martial arts stars like Eduard Folayang, Kevin Belingon, and Geje Eustaquio made names for themselves on a global stage and put the Philippines on the MMA map, a Filipino was already proudly representing his Pinoy roots inside the cage.
Nicknamed “The Truth”, Filipino-American Brandon Vera burst onto the scene as a budding heavyweight contender in the UFC.
In the North American MMA promotion, Vera came out on fire, winning his first four fights, capped off by a dominant TKO victory over former world champion Frank Mir.
After an up-and-down career inside the Octagon that saw him share the stage with legends such as Randy Couture, Mauricio “Shogun” Rua and Jon Jones, Vera’s time in the UFC came to an end.
It wouldn’t take long for the hard-hitting heavyweight to find a new home, however.
In 2014, Vera made his debut with Asian MMA powerhouse ONE Championship, and the rest is history.
Since coming to the Singapore-based promotion, Vera has enjoyed somewhat a career resurgence.
After demolishing former URCC champion Igor Subora in his ONE debut in 2014, Vera captured the inaugural ONE Heavyweight World Championship after dispatching Paul Cheng in just 26 seconds in 2015.
In 2016, Vera successfully defended the title against Japanese grappler Hideki Sekine in another dominant performance that saw the Filipino champion dismantle his opponent in under a round.
It’s been quite the couple of years for Vera, who credits his rejuvenation to his relocation to the Philippines, among other things.
In mid-2016, Vera decided to relocate to the Philippines, a decision that he says has made his life a lot better.
“Living in the Philippines definitely made life a lot brighter,” Vera said following his win over Sekine. "I love what I’m doing, I love being here in the Philippines, I love yung mga kababayan ko dito, I love it now."
Life outside the cage has been nothing short of wonderful for Vera as well.
After his 2016 title defense, Vera took time off to take care of other commitments outside the cage, among them getting married to sweetheart Jessica Craven and filming a smash-hit movie entitled BuyBust alongside Anne Curtis and Director Erik Matti.
“Working with Direk Erik, Ms. Anne Curtis, Victor Neri, Tito Levi [Ignacio], you know just working with that group of people and seeing the level of where I want to be, projects are coming my way now, it’s, I don’t know how to describe it, I don’t know how to explain it,” he said, “it’s beyond a dream. Most people dream to just get into a movie, I was put into a movie with all of those superstars. All I can do is thank my blessings everyday that I was able to do something like that,” Vera said of his experience filming BuyBust.
Marriage and movies aside, two years was a long-enough time for Vera to be out of action, and now, “The Truth” is set to make his long-awaited return.
In the main event of ONE: Conquest of Champions on Friday, November 23rd at the Mall of Asia Arena in Manila, Vera comes back to defend his ONE Heavyweight World Championship against Italian challenger Mauro “The Hammer” Cerilli.
Weeks before his return to the cage was announced, Vera admitted to a feeling of longing to fight.
“Excited is not even the word. Like I’m longing for it. That’s all the emotional stuff, that’s all the anxiousness, all the excitement, the nervousness, all of it is encompassed in that feeling, I guess. I can’t wait to get back inside,” he expressed.
For the fourth time, Vera will be fighting at home, and this has been a unique source of motivation for “The Truth.”
“I’ve been gone for a while, and that’s where the nerves are coming from, but like I said before, I would much rather die than lose in front of the Philippines,” he said during the official ONE: Conquest of Champions Press Conference. “There’s just no way that I can let that happen.”
Friday night at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City, Brandon Vera makes his highly-anticipated return to the cage.
After nearly two years away, The Truth is back home.