The ONE Heavyweight World Champion will trim down to challenge for the ONE Light Heavyweight World Title in the main event on Sunday, 13 October, and he admits that the prospect is a little scary.
However, most of all, the Filipino hero is excited to get the chance to fulfill a dream he has had since the beginning of his career.
He also has mixed feelings about the match-up he must win in Tokyo, Japan to win his second piece of gold in The Home Of Martial Arts.
There is no animosity between the 42-year-old and his rival from Myanmar, who he describes as “almost like a brother” with whom he has shared coaches, training partners, and gyms.
If he had his way, he would not face “The Burmese Python” to win the prize he has targeted for years, but fate has put these two athletes on a collision course.
“It just happened that the best person in the world at light heavyweight is Mr. Aung La,” Vera says.
“I didn’t want to [face him], but he’s the champ right now, so it’s love-hate kind of [situation] that I had to do.”
What’s more, “The Truth” admits he is unlikely to have to face a tougher challenge.
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Aung La N Sang has finished his last five bouts via stoppage, including the win that earned him the ONE Light Heavyweight World Title – a 56-second head-kick KO of Alexandre “Bebezao” Machado.
The man from Manila knows he cannot make a single false move against such a dangerous opponent, but it is this kind of challenge that is driving him to get into the best shape of his career.
“As an athlete, he’s a monster. He’s scary, man,” Vera says.
“He just keeps going, he doesn’t go away, he gets better and better every event, he just keeps improving his skill set, he’s tougher than anyone I’ve seen, he’s gotten more heart, and he’s got a country driving him.
“All these things that I’m telling you about Mr. Aung La are what motivates me every day to go train when I’m sore, when I’m tired, and when I don’t know if I should get up.
“The execution of his techniques, the timing of his movement, and his combinations [have improved]. Before, he used to just throw things just because he’s tough and he’s Mr. Aung La. [He has] no fear now.
“He’s actually looking for holes, he’s looking for things, he’s trying to create setups so that he can touch you, which makes him even more dangerous than he already was.”
Despite all the things that will make this assignment so difficult for the Alliance Training Center representative, he is still looking forward to entering the Circle to see if he can find a way to defeat “The Burmese Python.”
That might be because he may already have a path to victory figured out, but he does not want to give away his secrets before 13 October.
“I do see a couple [of things I can exploit], but you won’t hear it. I’m not telling you or anybody,” he says.
However, one thing he will reveal is that he has no intention of this contest going all five rounds.
Though “The Truth” does not much care if he maintains his 100-percent record of first-round knockouts in ONE, he is adamant the match will not go all 25 minutes.
“I’m not always going for the knockout, I’m just looking to finish the fight before the end of the fifth round,” he adds.
“I do not ever want the judges deciding whether or not I’ve won or lost, so one way or another, the fight has to finish.”
More than anything, Vera is just desperate to reach the greater goal that he set out to achieve at the start of his career.
From his early days as a professional, the Filipino warrior has said he wanted to become a World Champion at heavyweight, and then drop down to collect a light heavyweight belt, and now he has that chance.
It does not really matter who he has to beat to do it, or how, as long as he gets to wear two straps over his shoulders when the lights go down in the Ryogoku Kokugikan and join an elite group of athletes.
“A [second] World Championship belt would put me in a different echelon that not many fighters in their lifetime ever get to accomplish, nor get close to doing,” he says
“You’re basically getting to say that you’re the best in two divisions in the entire world when you have something like that.
“Even though I don’t speak of it like it’s a really big deal and I don’t talk of it as if it’s the bee’s knees to be a two-division champ, it has been a dream that I’ve been chasing for more than 15 years
“Almost my entire martial arts career has been devoted to becoming a two-division champion – that’s how difficult it is to become one.”
Tokyo | 13 October | ONE: CENTURY | TV: Check local listings for global broadcast | Tickets: http://bit.ly/onecentury19
ONE: CENTURY is the biggest World Championship martial arts event in history with 28 World Champions featured across various martial arts. No organization in history 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 Ryugoku Kokugikan in Tokyo, Japan on 13 October.