Brandon “The Truth” Vera proudly wears the ONE Heavyweight World Title belt, but if it was not for his career in the United States Air Force, he may never have touched the gold.
The Filipino-American, who will challenge two-division ONE World Champion Aung La “The Burmese Python” N Sang for the light heavyweight crown at ONE: CENTURY PART II, credits the military for equipping him with the values necessary to reach the top of the martial arts world.
“Look at what I do for a living now — I’m a World Champion,” the 41-year-old says.
“Imagine how much energy and time it has taken to get to this point, so think of all of the bad stuff I could have gotten into if I wasn’t pushed in the right direction.”
Vera was raised by his Filipino family in Norfolk, Virginia, which boasts the largest naval complex in the world. The military lifestyle is a big part of the American city’s makeup, and that had a profound effect on him.
When “The Truth” decided to leave Old Dominion University, he reflected on his childhood passions and enlisted in the United States Air Force.
“I felt like I was wasting my time [in college]. I had a full scholarship, but I decided it wasn’t for me,” he explains.
“Instead of just floating around or getting a dead-end job, I understood — even at that young age — that I needed to figure myself out. I joined the military, so I had the right guidance.
“I was always a fan of the military as a kid. I used to love going to the air shows and the navy shows, so it felt natural and right that I would go and serve, and see what I could see around the world.”
Vera had some life-changing experiences during his time in the United States Air Force, including the chance to train full-time at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado.
When he was medically discharged due to a severe injury in 1999, it served as a catalyst for him to pursue his newfound love for combat sports.
Life as a civilian was not easy at first, but his time in active service paved the way for him to excel in martial arts, where success comes through hard work and not cutting corners.
The heavyweight missed the teamwork and camaraderie, but he found it among his peers in the gym, which was where his military values paid dividends.
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“In my training and in my life, the military gave me discipline,” he states.
“When I’m talking about discipline, I’m talking about when you’re doing the things you’re supposed to be doing, even though you know 100 percent nobody is going to check up on it — whether it is pushing yourself in training, or not eating the chocolate because you’re making weight.
“I understand what my job is. I understand what’s needed and what’s at stake. I am very thankful that I learned all of that at a young stage in my life.
“That’s the type of discipline the military gave me. I do stuff because you’re supposed to, as a responsible person, and I think a lot of people in the world now are missing that.”
“The Truth” still leans on those ingrained habits to aid him in his preparation for battle in The Home Of Martial Arts — especially for his upcoming World Title bout against Aung La N Sang in Tokyo, Japan on Sunday, 13 October.
Another important principle he gained from the military is his overwhelming desire to help and protect other individuals.
Now living in his ancestral homeland of the Philippines, Vera’s time in the United States Air Force armed him with an unwavering sense of duty to his people.
He served for others, as well as for himself, and now he competes for a cause much bigger than his own accomplishments.
“It’s more than you — you become a part of the whole,” Vera asserts.
“I’m not in the military anymore, but this martial arts thing and chasing a second World Title, it’s not about me. I’m just the performer in the play in this act we call life.
“I’m just a part of the whole, and I need to make sure that what I’m doing and what I put out there is good for everyone else.”
- Watch PART I in USA on 12 October at 8pm EST and PART II on 13 October at 4am EST
- Watch PART I in India on 13 October at 5:30am IST and PART II at 1:30pm IST
- Watch PART I in Indonesia on 13 October at 7am WIB and PART II at 3pm WIB
- Watch PART I in Singapore on 13 October at 8am SGT and PART II at 4pm SGT
- Watch PART I in the Philippines on 13 October at 8am PHT and PART II at 4pm PHT
- Watch PART I in Japan on 13 October at 9am JST and PART II at 5pm JST
ONE: CENTURY is the biggest World Championship martial arts event in history with 28 World Champions featured across various martial arts. No organization has ever promoted two full-scale World Championship events on the same day.
The Home Of Martial Arts will break new ground as it brings multiple World Title bouts, a trio of World Grand Prix Championship Finals, and several World Champion versus World Champion matches to the famous Ryogoku Kokugikan in Tokyo, Japan on 13 October.