BRANDON Vera seeks to register a hat-trick on home soil as he defends his ONE Championship heavyweight belt for the first time, taking on Hideki Sekine in Age of Domination of Friday night at the Mall of Asia Arena.
After winning his first two fights in the country since transferring from the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), the Filipino-American is eager to make it three in a row as he faces a Japanese grappling veteran in the main event.
“Parang bahay ko ‘to. Matatalo ka ba sa bahay mo? Hindi pwede,” Vera said in the press launch on Tuesday at Viking’s MOA. “Mamamatay muna ako before I lose in the ring. I can’t let somebody beat me here in the Philippines.”
Vera leads the nine Filipinos seeing in action in the 11-fight card that also features fellow Fil-Am Mark Striegl, Lakay standouts Geje Eustaquio and Honorio Banario, Euegen Toquero and Danny Kingad in an all-Pinoy bout.
Fil-Australian Reece Mclaren also challenges bantamweight champion Bibiano Fernandes in the co-main event.
But most of the spotlight will be on the 6-foot-2 Vera, who is prepared to go the limit this time after managing to finish his first two ONE fights in the first round.
“I’ve always been ready to go the distance,” Vera said. “Any fight, you have to be ready to go five rounds. You don’t know what’s happening, you don’t know how quick this guy is, don’t know which shots are going to hit you and what shots are going to hit you.”
“I’ve been blessed my last two fights finished first round, but I’m ready to go all five rounds,” he added. “It’s my job. We just fight until somebody tells us to stop.”
The 39-year-old fighter, sporting a 14-7 win-loss MMA record, faces a foe who’s four years older and whose last fight came two years ago, but the Fil-Am star is not taking him for granted.
“He’s been undefeated in seven years … so I’m expecting a hard fight, expecting shots to be traded, and expecting him to slip and get caught, expecting him to push the pace and try to take me down,” Vera said.
“But I don’t expect him to be successful at that,” he was quick to add.