By Michael Angelo S. Murillo
ONE Championship world heavyweight champion Brandon “The Truth” Vera makes his return to action on Oct. 13 at “ONE: Century” in Tokyo, Japan, and he is going to face a challenge he has not seen before in Asia’s largest combat sports promotion, said a fight analyst.
To take on light heavyweight champion “The Burmese Python” Aung La N Sang in the headlining fight for part two of the two-pronged Century event, ONE Championship’s landmark centenary show since 2011, Mr. Vera (16-7-1) said he chose to battle the Myanmar champion to fulfil a dream of becoming a double champion in a sport he has been doing professionally for two decades now and has taken him to different places and settings.
While Mr. Vera has made a strong claim for such a quest in his five years in ONE, local fight analyst Nissi Icasiano said he will have his work cut out for him against Aung La (25-10-1), the concurrent ONE middleweight champion.
“Brandon Vera definitely faces a huge challenge in Aung La. This will be the first time that he will have to fight a quality opponent since he joined the company in 2014. He will be tested. This will not be a walk in the park. Almost all of his opponents [previously] weren’t at par with his skill set nor at least touched his resume. It’s going to be interesting how he adjusts from cutting weight at 42 years old,” said Mr. Icasiano in an interview as he touched on what Mr. Vera faces in his upcoming fight.
“Aung La N Sang is a fighter with training partners from UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) and Bellator. He gets to train with some of the best light heavyweights and middleweights in America so we can say he has quality,” he added.
Mr. Vera, who last fought in November last year here in Manila, said he would turn to his experience to get past the challenge that Aung La, 34, presents, picking up holes in the latter’s arsenal to take advantage of, a tack that Mr. Icasiano views as a “double-edged sword.”
“Experience is a double-edged sword for me. To me, it’s all about the quality of opponents that you’ve faced. Vera is yet to fight a quality foe from 2014 to 2019. That is five years, so we really can’t tell if he’s still high caliber because he’s yet to be tested. Another factor is the fact that Vera is yet to make it out of the first round. Five years is half a decade, a lot of things could’ve changed during those five years,” the analyst said.
“Vera only has a height advantage in every criteria. He only has size. When it comes to chin, Aung La has chin. In my opinion, the real favorite in this fight is Aung La N Sang, not Brandon Vera,” Mr. Icasiano added.
Mr. Icasiano was quick to say though that he is not counting out Mr. Vera outright versus Aung La N Sang but the Filipino-American fighter should bring his A-game come fight night lest he find himself stopped by the Burmese Python.
ONE: Century will be carried live locally by both ESPN5 and Cignal, and ABS-CBN Sports and iWant Sports.
Part one of the event, headlined by the women’s atomweight title clash of champion Angela “Unstoppable” Lee of Singapore and strawweight champ “The Panda” Xiong Jing Nan begins at 8 a.m. with part two, bannered by the Aung La-Vera title clash, starts at 4 p.m.