By CARLO ANOLIN
ONE Championship heavyweight king Brandon Vera is hoping to defy Father Time when he locks horns with Indian wrestler Arjan Bhullar in ONE: Dangal at the Singapore Indoor Stadium on Saturday, May 15.
After training with Florida-based stable Sanford MMA, under the tutelage of coach Henri Hooft, Vera, 43, was most grateful for becoming a “student of this beautiful game again.”
“Even this far along in my career, I feel like a little kid again. I haven’t felt like this since I first started competing,” said Vera, a former UFC fighter, who holds a 16-8 record. “I’m talking about back in 2005, I haven’t felt like this since. Everybody has been using the words reinvigorated. I’m just really, really happy that I could be a kid again and go play
“That’s exactly what it feels like. I haven’t been in this good of a shape or this ready for an event in a long time. Even as a world champion, I haven’t been ready like this. I’m excited to go see what I can do.”
Before joining ONE Championship in 2014, Vera had a rich experience in the UFC, facing the likes of Jon Jones, Frank Mir, Randy Couture, Fabricio Werdum, and Mauricio Rua, among others.
Vera had a 6-7 record in the UFC, including two victories in the UFC Fight Night.
Vera made his way to the top of ONE Championship’s heavyweight division after beating Igor Subora, Paul Cheng, Hideki Sekino, and Mauro Cerilli.
The Filipino-American champion dethroned Cheng in December 2015 to become the reigning ONE heavyweight champion.
His lone promotional defeat was in October 2019 — the last time Vera saw action in the Circle — against rival-turned-training partner Aung La N Sang, a former two-division ONE world champion.
Bhullar is a former Olympic wrestler and also a UFC fighter who owns a 10-1 record.
The 34-year-old Bhullar, a Canadian of Indian descent, scored a unanimous decision victory against Cerilli last October 2019 for his promotional debut.
Vera and Bhullar were initially set to clash in May last year at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City but the title bout was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.