Returning after a two-year layoff can be quite the challenge for every active mixed martial artist — even for those as decorated as Brandon Vera.
Making his long-awaited comeback to the ONE Championship cage for the first time since his one-round knockout of Hideki Sekine back in 2016, the now 41-year-old elite striker assured fans that he won’t be a victim of the dreaded ‘ring rust’.
“I owe the Philippines a lot for inspiring me to work harder than I ever have before. Am I ready after spending two years away from the cage? Hell yes. I’ve prepared very hard for this bout. I’ve trained every day, in between traffic, shoots, and everything in the middle,” the 41-year-old season vet assured fans during ONE CONQUEST OF CHAMPIONS press conference on Tuesday.
‘The Truth’ headlines the stacked ONE CONQUEST OF CHAMPIONS card set this Friday at the Mall of Asia Arena, where he will try to defend his ONE Heavyweight Championship for the third time against Mauro Cerilli.
“Mauro [Cerilli] is a worthy opponent, he’s been knocking guys out while I was away, and I am in no way underestimating him,” Vera said of the Italian challenger.
Although confident in his gamelan and preparation, Vera also admitted that he welcomes the pressure that comes from fighting in front of the Filipino crowd.
“I’ve been gone fo a while so doon galing yung kaba. I would much rather die than lose in front of the Philippines. Hindi ko kaya yun. I’m just as committed as before and I am confident of victory. I’m still hungry and I want it more now,” he declared.
Cerilli, for his part, also acknowledged the champion’s illustrious career.
“I know Brandon [Vera] is the local hero, and I have all the respect for him. But I will do my best to win the title,” the hard-hitting Italian, who won 4 of his last 5 bouts by KO/TKO, said.
“If you would have told me years ago I would be facing a legend like Brandon, I would not have believed you. I’ve worked very hard to get to this point, so I am grateful for the opportunity.”
Aside from Vera, the Philippines’ top homegrown mixed martial artist Eduard “The Landslide” Folayang will also look to reclaim the ONE Lightweight title against Singaporean Amir Khan in the co-main event.
His Team Lakay stablemate Honorio “The Rock” Banario will also tussle against Dae Sung “Crazy Dog” Park of Korea.