Brandon “The Truth” Vera held the ONE Heavyweight World Championship for more than five years, which inevitably led to many callouts from would-be contenders.
With the recent influx of elite heavyweights, the list of contenders targeting the Filipino-American grew rapidly, but the loudest of them all was Amir Aliakbari.
Before he even stepped into the ONE Championship Circle, the Iranian had Vera’s name on his tongue — something “The Truth” did not take kindly to.
Here, we look at the budding rivalry between two colossal men, and where it could lead.
Who Are The Athletes?
Vera needs no introduction to the global fan base. After making his name in North America, he returned to his Asian roots in ONE Championship and blasted his way through the heavyweight division.
His first four bouts produced four first-round knockout wins — three of those in World Title contests. Though he recently lost the crown to Arjan “Singh” Bhullar, Vera is still the most dominant force in the division’s history, and therefore, plenty of burgeoning stars are looking to make a name off his reputation.
Aliakbari is a Greco-Roman Wrestling World Champion from Iran, which makes him a legitimate superstar in his home country.
Prior to signing with ONE Championship, the bearded behemoth competed in some of the biggest events in Japan and Europe — compiling a 10-1 record with seven TKO finishes.
Why The Beef?
The ink had not even dried on Aliakbari’s ONE contract before he was telling the world that he would “smash” his way to World Championship gold.
Vera did not rise to those taunts in the same way, but he did acknowledge the AAA Team athlete’s “disrespectful” comments and warned him, “Before you start running your mouth, make sure you get past your first event at ONE.”
Aliakbari continued to push the agenda with Vera, even calling for an immediate World Title shot, but Bhullar was already next in line.
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Aliakbari: “To all the heavyweights, I want you guys to be ready because I am coming. Brandon Vera, put down the belt and walk away because the king is here. Or I will smash your face. Me and all my brothers are here to take over and dominate ONE Championship.”
“ONE Championship, give me your champion. I cannot wait anymore. I am the best.”
“[Brandon Vera,] if you think my head is up in space, tell them to arrange the fight sooner to see who is the s*** loser. I want to beat you in a way that your face [will not be] recognizable by your fans.”
Vera: “[Aliakbari] has got a lot of fans, so a lot of his fans are pumping his head up, but it’s like, hey man, don’t let your fans be the reason why you catch an ass-whooping. Make sure you come in ready. I understand you’re good, I understand you’re a big guy, but make sure your mind is right because if you come in, I’m not playing games.”
After Aliakbari’s loss: “I know me and Amir have had this little thing going back and forth. I hope you rest well, speedy recovery, get ready for your next one. Like I’ve been telling everybody all along, it’s different here in Asia. It’s different in ONE Championship. Don’t worry about everyone [else]. You need to worry about that person standing right in front of you, especially when they close that door on our Circle.”
With both athletes coming off a loss, a highly anticipated clash between Vera and Aliakbari could reasonably be lined up very soon. They are in need of a win to progress toward the gold, and the tension between them is ripe for a faceoff.
When you have two huge men with their backs against the wall and a vested personal interest in victory, the only possible outcome is fireworks.
Aliakbari’s immense wrestling and Vera’s concussive striking would also make for an intriguing clash of styles. It’s just another reason — if it were needed — to line them up as soon as possible.
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