Brandon Vera vs. Amir Aliakbari: 4 Keys To Victory In Heavyweight Fight At ONE 164
The elite heavyweights will square off on the main card of ONE 164: Pacio vs. Brooks at the Mall of Asia Arena in Manila, Philippines.
And given their reputations as knockout finishers – along with their heated war of words last year – fans are anticipating a fiery battle between these hard-hitting rivals.
Here are the keys to victory for both Vera and Aliakbari, who each have ONE Heavyweight World Title contention on their agendas.
#1 Aliakbari’s Powerful Fists
Although Aliakbari entered MMA as a Greco-Roman Wrestling World Champion, he quickly found out that he has sledgehammers for fists – and he put them to good use.
A bear of a man with the paws to match, the Iranian has bludgeoning force in his punches, which have helped him earn eight stoppages in 11 career victories.
He’s worked hard on his boxing to find a home for his power, and when he blitzes forward with his thudding right hand, any connection can end a fight in an instant.
With Vera coming off a TKO defeat to Arjan Bhullar last year, Aliakbari will be confident in his ability to take the former World Champion out, so expect aggression from the opening bell.
#2 Vera’s Concussive Counters
Aliakbari’s eagerness to make a statement could play right into Vera’s hands, thanks to his renowned counter-striking ability.
The former heavyweight king can fight off the front foot, but he’s dangerous going backward too, especially when his opponent overcommits to their punches.
The Filipino-American has used his counter left hook to great effect inside the Circle on multiple occasions, leading to knockout wins over Paul Cheng and Mauro Cerilli.
Adding to that danger on the back foot, “The Truth” can also switch stances as he avoids shots and retreats.
This offers up a new variety of counters for Aliakbari to watch out for if he comes lunging forward in an attempt to catch Vera’s chin.
#3 Aliakbari’s Wrestling And Ground Strikes
If Aliakbari can’t find a home for his concussive punches on the feet, he can always reroute to his formidable wrestling game.
The Iranian standout became a champion on the mats, and he’s shown glimpses of his true prowess in MMA too – particularly in his last win over Cerilli at ONE on Prime Video 1.
The 34-year-old showed the maturity to switch gears against a dangerous striker and took the Italian down to dominate on the ground.
Once he’s on top, Aliakbari is hard to shift, with a combination of size and skill helping him grind down opponents.
And when he gets the chance, his ground-and-pound is ferocious and can be relied upon to end a fight.
#4 Vera’s Chopping Low Kicks
Although he also comes from a wrestling background, Vera has made an MMA career as a stand-up specialist, and he won’t want to tussle in close with the hulking Aliakbari.
However, his striking arsenal is also more diverse than the Iranian’s, and he can utilize his punishing kicks to stem the flow of punches and takedown attempts.
“The Truth’s” low kicks have been enough to dispatch previous opponents on their own, but even if it doesn’t come to that, they can significantly stifle incoming offense.
Aliakbari doesn’t check kicks often, and if Vera can land a few unimpeded shots to the thigh, it will limit the Iranian’s movement, making him more hesitant to step forward and carry weight on his lead leg.
With less forward pressure coming toward him, the Filipino-American could take the initiative and step in with his own attacks.