HE has seen action in the world’s biggest MMA stage, but Brandon Vera admitted he still feels the pressure as he fights in front of the home crowd and banners a cast of seven Filipinos who will showcase their skills in One FC: Warrior’s Way on Friday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Out of action for several months since his last fight in the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), Vera is making his One FC debut and hoping to start afresh when he collides with Igor Subora.
A top light heavyweight and heavyweight contender after winning his first eight fights, the Filipino-American fighter has been on a decline as he lost seven of his last 12 fights in the UFC.
Vera's last loss, though, a third-round knockout at the hands of Ben Rothwell last August 2013, proved controversial as his opponent tested positive for high testosterone after the fight, leading to a nine-month suspension.
That turned out to be Vera’s last UFC fight as he was released in June, ending an eight-year stint in the world’s biggest stage of MMA.
Signed by One FC shortly after that match, the 37-year-old fighter returns to action trying to prove that he still has what it takes to perform at a high level.
“This is for the people who never gave up on me, for the people that never turned away from me, for the people who believe in me, and for my family for always being there,” Vera said after his open workout.
Standing in Vera’s way is a 6-foot-3 Ukrainian foe, who is an inch taller than him and has won his last five fights, the last in November 2013 against Filipino Marcus Valda in URCC Uprising.
“I don’t care if it’s a knockout or submission. I just want to put on an amazing performance and I want to hurt him.”
“I’m not saying that to be mean,” Vera added. “But this fight means a lot to me in more ways than one.”
Several Filipino fightrs are seeing action, but focus is definitely on Vera, born to a Filipino father and Italian-American mother.
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“There’s a lot of pressure. It’s a good thing, though,” he said. “Anytime I had adversity in my face, I always came through on top or you’ve seen my best performance ever.
“So I’m excited, nervous, and scared all at the same time if that makes sense.”