The transition from the Ultimate Fighting Championship to ONE Championship for Virginia native Brandon ‘The Truth’ Vera, has proven career altering, successful, and seamless. The current heavyweight champion challenges for a second crown this weekend in Tokyo at ONE: CENTURY:, as he meets light heavyweight best Aung La Nsang.
The Norfolk native has so far experienced perfect results in Chatri Sityodtong’s promotion, picking up four straight victories via knockout, and the inaugural heavyweight championship. Against Myanmar talent La Nsang, Vera faces a move down a division, and arguably his biggest test during his five year stint with the Singapore organization.
La Nsang has finished all but one of his last six opponents, including Alain Ngalani to claim the middleweight and light heavyweight title in just two years. Both men have displayed fantastic finishing ability and killer instinct throughout their respective careers, with an incredible thirty-five stoppages between them.
Vera, 41, enters the cage on Saturday having faced some of the biggest names in heavyweight mixed-martial-arts history. During his time with the UFC, Vera stopped former heavyweight champion Frank Mir, but came unstuck against current 205 pound best Jon Jones, the legendary Randy Couture, Fabricio Werdum, Tim Sylvia, ‘Shogun’ Rua and in a controversial matchup, dropped a knockout loss to Ben Rothwell who later tested positive for elevated testosterone.
Controversy continued to follow Vera’s opponents as Brazilian Thiago Silva issued a falsified urine sample to the commission, ruling their bout a no-contest. Despite these blemishes, Vera has stood opposite some legitimate dance-partners and in that list alone, five separate world champions.
In the Alliance MMA staple’s last four walks, he’s managed four highlight reel stoppages, picking up just shy of nine minutes cage time. Against most recent foe, Italian knockout artist Mauro Cerilli, Vera landed a third consecutive title defense via an opening minute one-punch stoppage. Unloading with a picture-perfect left hand counter to an aggressive Cerilli, Vera sent the former Cage Warriors feature to the canvas.
Saturday night in Tokyo marks Vera’s premier return to light heavyweight since 2012, and against an all-rounder like La Nsang, Vera must be wary of not only the power coming back his way, but the often dangerous grappling skills of the Hard Knocks 365 trainee as he attempts to hand the 34-year-old his first loss in six outings. In his ten career defeats, La Nsang has been stopped with strikes on four separate occasions, notably to the dynamic kicker Uriah Hall and Costas Phillipou.
In terms of natural power, Vera certainly has the superior stopping power when compared to both Hall and Phillipou, and the time he’s spent at heavyweight in the previous six years has allowed him to really fill out his frame and deal with the extra baggage.