BRANDON Vera spent years away from the ONE Championship cage because of other commitments.
He didn't spend much time there in his return.
Vera needed a little over a minute to dispose of his Italian foe Mauro Cerilli and retain his ONE heavyweight title in Conquest of Champions on Friday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
It took little time for Vera to get going as he caught Cerilli with a counter left hook just a minute and five seconds into the match to the delight of the home crowd.
"Ecstatic, ang galing. Mga kababayan miss na miss ko na kayo," said Vera as the MOA Arena crowd roared in approval. "Ang tagal na dalawang taon, pasensya ha, pero mukhang kayang kaya pa."
Vera looked very cautious upon his return to the cage as he lured Cerilli into coming forward while anticipating his overhand right.
Vera timed his attack to perfection as Cerilli pushed forward, connecting on a short left hook which floored the Italian foe and took him out for good.
"I've been watching him, even in my sleep. I watched him train. I watch him fight, I know he swings hard and it hurts so I'm glad to have him knocked out," Vera said after improving to 16-7.
By defending his title, the former UFC mainstay assured the Philippines will have five ONE titles entering 2019, including the lightweight crown won by Eduard Folayang in an earlier bout.
"We have five Filipino champions now. Kayang kaya natin," Vera shouted in the din of the celebration. "Kolektahin natin lahat ng mga belt."