Brandon “The Truth” Vera: “I don’t know the direction [the UFC is] going with”

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Brandon “The Truth” Vera Talks About the UFC and ONE Championship

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UFC veteran Brandon “The Truth” Vera is not a fan of the UFC’s recent decisions regarding its fighters and other employees.

Now residing in the Philippines, the former UFC heavyweight contender questions the new owners’ strategy following the UFC’s $4.2-B sale to talent management conglomerate WME-IMG. “With the new owners, it’s a conglomerate of investors, actors. I don’t know the direction they’re going with,” says Vera in an exclusive interview with MMA Philippines. “I know they cooled off Asia. [But] I know there’s still going to be UFC gyms here.”

The UFC recently announced their 2017 schedule, and while three of the events are targeted to happen in Asia, the specific countries and dates will still have to be revealed. Following the cancellation of UFC Fight Night: Penn vs. Lamas last October, Filipino fans are divided with regards to a UFC event being held here in 2017. Some are still hoping that the ‘rescheduled’ event would happen sooner than later, albeit with a better card, while others are pessimistic that the UFC and/or its local partner SM Lifestyle Entertainment, Inc. (SMLEI) would not risk another event following the dismal ticket sales reported for the cancelled event.

As the founder and co-owner of Alliance MMA, what disturbs Vera the most are the number of fighters and employees publicly airing their grievances with the UFC or parting ways with the promotion. “The fighters aren’t happy. They’re firing all the old guard staff there. The plans they have laid out so far don’t make sense. They’re getting rid of their commentators, the old matchmaker, I don’t know what they’re doing.”

Moreover, Vera suggests an imminent problem between the UFC and their broadcast partners. According to him, “The money that they’re asking for the renewal of their contracts, nobody’s signing them.” Locally, broadcast rights to the UFC is exclusively owned by Cignal TV. The three-year deal was signed January of last year, which leaves us with two more years of access to PPV and FOX events via satellite TV. What happens after that remains to be seen.

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To say that this is all WME-IMG’s fault is unfair however, as problems between the promotion and its fighters have been present ever since. Vera, who parted ways with the UFC in 2014, iterates his own reasons for leaving. “When I left my old organization and I was having problems with the president, everything that I said to him on the phone, it’s happening now. About money, the lack of respect, and the treatment of the fighters. And nobody believed me when I talked about it 3, 4 years ago.”

On a positive note, Vera is very happy with his current home at ONE Championship, a big part of which is having the opportunity to fight in front of his home crowd. “Iba talaga dito sa Pilipinas. Kinakabahan ako. Kasi nandito ako sa Pilipinas, kailangan kong manalo. Pero yung pagmamahal nila, ng mga fans sa Pilipinas, it almost makes you cry. (To fight in the Philippines is very different. I feel nervous because I’m at home and I need to win. But the love that Filipino fans show me is incredible.) But it’s not nervousness. It’s excitement because I’m performing in front of my family. Masaya na masaya talaga. But it’s mostly masaya after the fight,” Vera told us in his best attempt at speaking straight Filipino.

And, asked if he has plans to pursue a second title at ONE Championship’s light heavyweight division, Vera had this to say, “No plans, but plans change every minute. Pwede rin.” ONE’s current light heavyweight champion, BJJ phenom Royce Gracie, initially teased the idea of going down to middleweight to capture a second title. Should the ONE Championship brass see the prospect of cross-divisional super fights appealing, Vera says he is more than capable of making a run at light heavyweight. “I can, because of the hydration standards that ONE uses for our tests, the weight limit at light heavyweight is higher. Currently, I’m at 240 to 245.” Should Vera continue the tradition of fighting in ONE Championship’s year-end Manila event, this is a fight we all would want to see.

Keep posted for the second part of our exclusive interview with Brandon “The Truth” Vera.

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John Hudson Go is the Editor-in-Chief of MMA Philippines.

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