Though he does not believe in cage rust, Brandon Vera admitted that he is nervous heading into his first bout in two years.
“Pasensya ha, kaba ako. Matagal na akong nawala dito,” opened the ONE Heavyweight World Champion during the press conference of ONE: Conquest of Champions, Tuesday at the City of Dreams Manila in Pasay City.
Ttwo whole years is quite a long time.
Vera, who owns a 15-7-1 record, last fought back in December 2, 2016. And his first title defense of the belt he won back in 2015 only lasted three minutes and 11 seconds, as he made quick work of Hideki Sekine.
But those two years were not a waste for the Filipino-American. Besides making a movie, he also found his renewed passion.
“Before I moved to the Philippines, being a champion was just a cool thought, something that I figured would be attainable if I didn’t really work that hard at it. And I realized I didn’t understand this ’til I moved to the Philippines. Kasalanan niyo,” admitted the now-41 year old.
“I used to only work two times, three times a week. I promise, kita mo katawan ko, mataba pa ako nun. I was never in shape like I should have been – I didn’t train unless I had a camp, unless I had a contract,” he furthered.
“Dito, sa mga mukha niyo, on your smiles, when you say hello to me every day, naiisip ko ‘puta’… Pasensya sa mura pero marami pa akong utang sa inyo kaysa sa ngiti lang. I owe you more than a smile. I owe you more.”
But he has his work cut out for him this time around.
In arguably his toughest bout in ONE Championship, he is set to face Mauro Cerilli, who owns a 12-2 record and is in the midst of a five-fight winning streak.
“To come back, for me to be back after such a long pause in the entertainment world, and then for them to find this monster. Etong kalaban ko, he beat his last five guys. The last four guys, he knocked out,” Vera shared.
“Sige, game ka? Sige subukan natin!”
But losing though is not an option for the former UFC vet. For him, he’d rather die than drop the belt in his home country.
“I would much rather die than lose in front of the Philippines.”