Brandon Vera Explains Move To Sanford MMA Ahead Of Title Defence
Brandon Vera feels rejuvenated ahead of his heavyweight title defence against Arjan Bhullar at ONE: Dangal on May 15th.
Vera recently parted ways with his long-time gym Alliance MMA to join Sanford MMA, where he has been training alongside ONE Championship stars Aung La N Sang, Martin Nguyen, and Tial Thang ahead of his upcoming title fight.
Move To Sanford MMA
Speaking to ONE Championship, Vera said that he felt it was the right decision to move his training camp to Florida.
“In making this move and making this commitment, it’s taken a lot of stress away from me as an athlete,” Vera said. “I can just concentrate on being a student of the game. It’s something that I needed, and it’s something that I’m glad I found — even if it’s in this part of my life and my career, this is where I need to be.
“Florida is a different animal. I had no idea that Florida was like this until we got here,” Vera said. “The family showed up and we were walking around wide-eyed and thinking, ‘Wow, man, this place is happening’. Whatever is going on here, they’re doing it right. All the guys at the gym are training together, so it’s nice being here. I absolutely love it.”
Relationship With Aung La N Sang
Vera hasn’t competed since losing to Aung La N Sang in their light heavyweight title bout at ONE: Century in 2019. Immediately after the fight, while hurting and laughing backstage, they discussed the possibility of training together. A little over a year later, their stars aligned at Sanford MMA.
“When Aung La and I had our fight, we were in the back getting checked out by our doctor. We’re both hurting, but we’re both laughing and joking and talking about training together,” Vera revealed. “And from that moment, something clicked, like he was more than just an opponent. It was a connection like more of a brother, more of a family vibe.”
Remaining The Champion
Vera understands that remaining the champion isn’t an easy task, but even at 43-years-old, he’s looking to evolve and learn to maintain his stranglehold on the ONE heavyweight division.
“Everybody wants to be the champ, but nobody will do the things that you have to do as a champion,” Vera said. “I asked my [wife], ‘Hey, what do you think about us going to Sanford?’ I started asking all my close friends, my close relatives, and my training partners, and they were like, ‘Man, you need to go there, that’s where you should be.’
“I sent Martin Nguyen a DM on Instagram, and Martin hit me back right away. I said, ‘Do you think it would be okay with them if I came to Sanford to train?’
“The next DM back was, ‘What?’ and then I got a video call. It was [Aung La] and Martin on the phone saying, ‘Yo, bring your [butt] out. What are you doing? Why you still there?’”
The Filipino-American feels rejuvenated at Sanford MMA, and is grateful to be training with some of the best fighters in the world every day.
“I have not felt this way about training, about MMA, and a group of guys since Alliance when I very first started this thing,” Vera said. “I am excited when I wake up in the morning. It makes me feel like a little kid again and it’s really cool. I wish I had a better way to describe that, but I don’t know. That’s where I’m at.
“Good lord, these practices here are something else. Everybody uses the words ‘world class,’ but at this place, there is a top five-person in every weight division in every organisation in the world, and all of them are trying to get to the number-one spot. So, when you ask how training is, it’s not like training — it’s like surviving out here.”
Future At Sanford MMA
Now that he’s settled in in Florida and feels part of the family at Sanford MMA, Vera hopes to remain at the training facility for the remainder of his career, while he fends off the new blood in the now stacked ONE heavyweight division.
“I found a place that I can call home, a place where I feel like I belong, and even after our title defense, we’re bringing that belt right back home here to Sanford and we’re going to stay here and just keep training,” Vera said.
“The ONE Championship heavyweight division — this new roster — has helped light a fire under my [butt]. They are the reason why going to Sanford was so easy. They are why swallowing my pride is no problem. I will stay at the top until I’m ready to go home, so until then, I’m here getting better, getting faster, and getting stronger. Because of all y’all monsters. Thanks, ONE Championship!”
Will Brandon Vera successfully defend his heavyweight title against Arjan Bhullar at ONE: Dangal on May 15th?