Brandon Vera’s fights are few and far between but that doesn’t mean the 41 year old has lost motivation. In fact he feels he has a serious point to prove ahead of his second title defence at ONE: ‘Conquest of Champions’ this Friday night in Manila.

“I am excited to prove that I am one of the best heavyweights in the world on 23 November. Excited is not even the word because I’m longing for it,” said the ONE heavyweight champion.

His fight with Mauro Cerilli headlines the card at the MOA Arena. Vera made his pro debut back in 2002 but after two years away from the cage this will feel like a new beginning for the Fil-Am fighter.

“I can’t wait. That’s all the emotional stuff, that’s all the anxiousness, all the excitement, the nervousness, all of it is encompassed in that feeling. I can’t wait to get back inside.”

Keeping busy

While Vera hasn’t been fighting frequently the UFC veteran has definitely been keeping busy. He’s established himself as a major movie star in the Philippines and says it’s been a real challenge.

“Most people dream to just get into a movie, but I was put into a movie with all of those superstars. (It) was way harder than I expected because I have to worry about everything else except me. In mixed martial arts, I’m just worried about me and the person standing across from me in the cage.”

That will clearly be the case on Friday night. Vera is facing the reigning Cage Warriors heavyweight champion in front of what promises to be a sold out MOA Arena and the Filipino fans in attendance will be fully expecting the hometown hero to defend his heavyweight belt.

It’s a lot of pressure, but Vera wouldn’t have it any other way.

“Everybody’s worried that it’s been nearly two years, but it doesn’t feel like that to me. I’ve been doing action stuff (but) I’ve been training on my days off.”

A better fighter

To come back from such a long layoff and beat one of the best heavyweights on the European scene would be a big ask for Vera but he promises to be a better fighter than he was in in 2016.

“It doesn’t feel like two years, and my coaches say that I’ve gotten faster, so I’m excited,” Vera says.

Don’t expect Vera to announce his retirement after his ONE: ‘Conquest of Champions’ fight. He has big plans for 2019 and they involve challenging for a second ONE Championship title in March.

“After my next fight, I would like to fight for the light heavyweight title. I would like to have that happen in Japan,” he said.

Vera has won all three of his ONE Championship fights with first round stoppages. He hasn’t been the distance since 2011 and is expecting Friday’s fight to be fast and furious.

“I don’t do promo stuff. Just watch the fight and enjoy because I don’t win by points. It’s not my style. I will be going for the finish.”