It took almost a full year to find a suitable opponent for ONE Heavyweight World Champion Brandon Vera (14-7-0, 1NC).
The 39-year-old Filipino-American did not let his guard down during his hiatus, however, as he trained diligently and furiously – especially with age catching up with him.
“This is MMA. This is a sport that demands so much of your time — time away from friends and family, it’s personal,” the 22-fight veteran said.
“At the end of the day, you’re in the gym and it’s just your body and your thoughts that’s driving. It takes an incredible amount of mental strength and willpower to stay at this level of the game.”
And when his first title defense was booked, Vera pushed even harder in the gym. Standing in his way is 7-0 Japanese prospect Hideki Sekine in a bout set as main event ONE Championship: Age of Domination at the SM Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
Even if he has an advantage in experience over Sekine, the World Heavyweight Champion remains wary of the threat his opponent possesses.
“My opponent is an undefeated Japanese martial arts veteran who is really strong and has a very capable ground game. I think is a good test for me to see where I am at in my career. Japanese fighters are very, very tough,” he remarked of his opponent.
“I will need to come into the fight in my best condition. I don’t want to take any opponent lightly.”
“Training has been phenomenal. I train with the best fighters in the world at Alliance MMA and with some really top guys in the Philippines as well. I am always in shape and ready to go. I can’t wait to be inside that ONE Championship cage again,” he declared.
Moreover, he believes that his one-year layoff brought more good than harm. According to him, he is now in the best shape of his life and is more than ready to put on another show in Manila.
“My mixed martial arts career has had its up and downs, highs and lows. But I feel that right now, I’m the best that I have ever been. I’m in my prime and I feel great. The honor and prestige of being a world champion is something that I take very seriously,” he said.
“I am truly blessed to be able to compete here in front of all the Filipino fans. It’s an amazing country and we discover something new everyday.”
Brandon Vera is set to make his first title defense on Friday, December 2, at the SM Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
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