Reigning ONE Heavyweight World Champion Brandon “The Truth” Vera is still going strong at the tail end of a long and glorious career.
Despite nearly two decades of excellence spent competing in the upper echelon of professional martial arts, the 43-year-old says he’s still constantly improving on his skill set, now more than ever since he has a huge fight coming up.
Vera, along with wife Jessica Craven and son Atreyu Timothy, recently made the big decision to uproot their life in Asia and move to Florida part-time, where “The Truth” has joined fellow ONE athletes Aung La N Sang and Martin Nguyen in training at the renowned Sanford MMA under legendary coach Henri Hooft.
It’s a massive life change that Vera says has allowed him to turn back the clock and revolutionize his camp at this stage in his career.
“Out of all the techniques, out of the perfect training schedule at Sanford MMA, coach Henri Hooft, coach Greg [Jones], how they communicate, out of everything that I could tell you, the best part of me moving to Sanford is that I got to become just a student again,” Vera said.
“I got to go into the gym, and just do what the coach says. I get to go play with the boys. I get to try new things. I get to go be a student of this beautiful game again.”
After a high profile stint in the UFC, Vera left the North American organization in 2013. He later joined ONE Championship in 2014, winning his first four fights for the promotion. Along the way, Vera captured the inaugural ONE Heavyweight World Title and has made multiple title defenses since.
During this period, Vera was largely self-trained, working closely with long-time strength and conditioning coach and friend George Castro in the Philippines. Moving to Sanford MMA, Vera now finds himself mixing it up with some of the world’s best fighters from different organizations.
Vera says it is a welcome upheaval, and believes it will spell the difference in his next world title defense.
“Even this far along in my career, I feel like a little kid again. I haven’t felt like this since I first started competing. I’m talking about back in 2005, I haven’t felt like this since. Everybody has been using the words reinvigorated. I’m just really, really happy that I could be a kid again and go play,” Vera said.
“That’s exactly what it feels like. I haven’t been in this good of a shape or this ready for an event in a long time. Even as a world champion, I haven’t been ready like this. I’m excited to go see what I can do.”
Vera counts himself among the lucky few who have been able to continue working and doing what he loves. But he hasn’t forgotten about those who haven’t been as fortunate. “The Truth” is always one to share feels for his fellow Filipino countrymen, and has this message for everyone who is going through some rough times.
“We are very fortunate. We’re lucky that we’ve been able to keep moving forward and doing things for our career, with ONE Championship, with entertainment in the Philippines, with our endorsement deals. I’ve been able to film still, so I’ve been busy. We’ve been doing movies. We’ve been in quarantine, getting PCR testing done everywhere we are around the world,” Vera said.
“I just want to send a shout out to everybody around the world. It hasn’t been easy, and I am very proud of all of you, for doing what you’ve been doing to continue your grind and continue pushing forward. There are no answers, and nobody is really trying to find the answers. We’re just trying to make it to the next day. I am a fan of you for doing that. So keep doing you, keeping pushing towards your goals, even if there is no end in sight. Let’s get through this together.”
Vera is scheduled to face Indian wrestling champion Arjan “Singh” Bhullar next, with his ONE Heavyweight World Title on the line. The two men square off in the headline bout at ONE: DANGAL, a tape delayed event from the Singapore Indoor Stadium in Singapore that airs on Saturday, 15 May.
ONE: DANGAL features a host of Indian martial arts stars, and aims to showcase the very best that India has to offer. Other Indian athletes scheduled for action include atomweight phenom Ritu “The Indian Tigress” Phogat, Gurdarshan “Saint Lion” Mangat, and Roshan Mainam.