Brandon “The Truth” Vera has always shot for the stars.
Ever since he first stepped inside the cage in July 2002, the Filipino-American was immediately recognized as a game changer with his potent blend of speed and power. Vera has since decimated his opponents with devastating Muay Thai, and combined with his shining personality, he has become an international superstar.
“The Truth” has time and again stated his championship aspirations in multiple divisions, which only served to prove the Team Alliance competitor’s hunger for success was every bit as big as his 191cm frame.
Simply put, world title gold has been on Vera’s mind from the very beginning, and the current ONE Heavyweight World Champion has no plans of slowing down anytime soon.
The savvy veteran has big plans for his 2018 campaign inside the cage, and Vera could very well find himself launching a political campaign in the Philippines. He talks more about those topics in this exclusive interview.
ONE Championship: You relocated from the United States to the Philippines not too long ago. How have you changed since the big move?
Brandon Vera: Everyone, I mean absolutely everyone, has said that I am happier out here; something I did not even notice. I am a lot busier here, since I am now entering the entertainment world. I have a great management team (Virtual Playground), and I am spoiled. I now know what a normal day of 12 hours is, and I have even worked 48 hours straight on the grind, and I absolutely love it – all while trying to get two training sessions in each day.
ONE: What has been the biggest adjustment for you, and what about the Philippines do you love so much?
BV: The biggest adjustment has been the traffic, and the hours wasted in traffic. I am learning to do video conferences in traffic now, and actually do e-mails and interviews while in traffic. My favorite part about working in the Philippines is that I get to have my [fiancée] Nenja with me everywhere I go. So it is like I get to take my favorite person with me everywhere I go in the Philippines.
ONE: How is Alliance Training Center in Manila going? How has the gym progressed?
BV: It is coming along fine. I am very much looking forward to the opening, and having Alliance Training Center — the culture and vibe — here in the Philippines. I promise to keep everyone updated for when the doors open. But in the meantime, I am training at the house and any gym I can get into, depending on traffic.
ONE: There have been changes in your personal life, too. You are engaged to be married. When is the wedding?
BV: Everything is always stars and rainbows. Even when it is not, it really is. I have learned a lot, and have grown myself. The wedding is Friday, 20 April, the same day as the ONE: HEROES OF HONOR event in Manila.
ONE: Speaking of which, when do you want to return to the ONE cage?
BV: I have asked to compete and defend my title twice this year. It is a fine balance right now, but please believe I am training, and waiting for my next bout.
ONE: What are your thoughts on ONE’s heavyweight division, and what would you like to see happen in your immediate future?
BV: My thoughts on the heavyweight division is that it is full of surprises, and I know ONE is searching and signing talent on the regular. It keeps me on my toes, and training twice a day. I would love to see ONE unify all belts around the world, and let us beat up other champs in other organizations. But for the immediate future, I want to keep destroying all of my opponents that stand in front of me. And who knows, maybe do a super bout against another world champ in another weight division.
ONE: How do you feel competing as a heavyweight as opposed to light heavyweight like you did in the past?
BV: I feel more complete at a heavyweight. I do not feel like I am lacking in nutrition, or in a displaced state of mind worrying about what I am going to eat next.
ONE: What does being a world champion mean to you?
BV: To be a world champion means becoming one of the absolute best in martial arts. The epitome of all martial arts, a goal longed for, but 99.9 percent of the time not realized. I feel like a guiding light, like I have been able to lay out a plan for you, or anyone, to follow to become a world champion. So in that sense, I am honored, I am blessed. Being a world champ for ONE makes me proud to know that our organization cares more about martial arts in being a great leader for the world as opposed to always business.
ONE: In your view, what makes ONE the best martial arts promotion in the world?
BV: They take the best care of their athletes, in and out of the cage. It is not only about event week, or the event. It is actually about helping our athletes grow beyond the realm of sports entertainment. And bar none, the level of respect shown and given in all directions, from the CEO to the person carrying equipment on event night, is the exact same.
ONE: You have previously mentioned your desire to enter Filipino politics, even taking pictures with politicians. Why is running for office so important to you, and what type of change do you want to bring?
BV: If I could make a difference in people’s lives, and if I am given the opportunity, it is something I would seriously consider. The biggest difference I would want to make in the Philippines is for every citizen to feel that the government is actually working for them, and trying to help them in their daily lives. That is the change I would want to bring.