ONE Heavyweight World Champion Brandon “The Truth” Vera is gunning for history when he takes on “The Burmese Python” Aung La N Sang on October 13 in the main event at ONE: CENTURY. Vera and the two-division world champion Aung La are scheduled to meet at the Ryōgoku Kokugikan in Tokyo, Japan for the ONE Light Heavyweight World Title.
Despite this being a high-profile matchup between two men at the top of their game, there is no bad blood between the two. As a matter of fact, “The Truth” holds Aung La in the highest regard and treats him like a brother. But one of the Filipino-American’s career goals has always been to become a simultaneous two-division world champ, and Aung La just so happened to be holding the title he coveted.
“It just happened that the best person in the world at light heavyweight is Mr. Aung La,” Vera said.
“I didn’t want to [face him], but he’s the champ right now, so it’s a love-hate kind of [situation] that I had to do.”
Vera respects Aung La for the skills he has developed over the years and his values as a man. The Myanmar hero has won his last five bouts decisively, each one more impressive than the last. “The Truth” knows that a tiny mistake against a formidable opponent can end his dream of owning a second world title.
“As an athlete, he’s a monster. He’s scary, man,” Vera said.
“He just keeps going, he doesn’t go away, he gets better and better every event, he just keeps improving his skill set, he’s tougher than anyone I’ve seen, he’s gotten more heart, and he’s got a country driving him.
“All these things that I’m telling you about Mr. Aung La are what motivates me every day to go train when I’m sore when I’m tired, and when I don’t know if I should get up. The execution of his techniques, the timing of his movement, and his combinations [have improved].
“Before he used to just throw things just because he’s tough and he’s Mr. Aung La. [He has] no fear now. He’s actually looking for holes, he’s looking for things, he’s trying to create setups so that he can touch you, which makes him even more dangerous than he already was.”
Aung La may have improved as an athlete, but Vera and his team at the Alliance Training Center have found areas they can take advantage of, which the heavyweight champ wants to keep as an ace up his sleeve.
“I do see a couple [of things I can exploit], but you won’t hear it. I’m not telling you or anybody,” Vera said.
The ONE Heavyweight World Champion currently holds a 100% first-round finishing rate in ONE — a record he doesn’t mind breaking in Tokyo as long as the match ends on his terms. Yet Vera is aiming to finish the bout before the end of the final round.
“I’m not always going for the knockout, I’m just looking to finish the fight before the end of the fifth round,” Vera said.
“I do not ever want the judges deciding whether or not I’ve won or lost, so one way or another, the fight has to finish.”
The Filipino-American knows all too well how formidable his opponent is and the difficult obstacles he had to overcome to hold two world titles. That is the reason why Vera keeps pushing himself to the limit every day. Vera has been chasing this dream for a long time, so he wants to make the most out of this rare opportunity.
“A [second] World Championship belt would put me in a different echelon that not many fighters in their lifetime ever get to accomplish, nor get close to doing,” Vera concluded.
“You’re basically getting to say that you’re the best in two divisions in the entire world when you have something like that. Even though I don’t speak of it like it’s a really big deal and I don’t talk of it as if it’s the bee’s knees to be a two-division champ, it has been a dream that I’ve been chasing for more than 15 years. Almost my entire martial arts career has been devoted to becoming a two-division champion – that’s how difficult it is to become one.”