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|Born||Brandon Michael Vera|
October 10, 1977 (age 40)
Brandon Michael Vera (born October 10, 1977) is a Filipino-American mixed martial artist currently signed with ONE Championship. A professional competitor since 2002, he has formerly competed for the UFC and the WEC. Vera is the 2005 WEC Heavyweight Grand Prix Champion, and is currently the ONE Championship Heavyweight Champion.
Brandon Vera is of Filipino descent, the son of a Filipino father, Ernesto, and his Filipino step-mother, Amelia. His birth mother is Italian and was not involved in most of his upbringing. Vera grew up in a family with three brothers and one sister. He also has two other brothers and another sister outside of the family in which he was raised and they were occasionally involved in his life. Vera was born and raised in Norfolk, Virginia, and attended Lake Taylor High School where he excelled in wrestling and earned a four-year athletic scholarship to Old Dominion University. However, he dropped out of Old Dominion after a year and a half when he felt college was not for him, and enlisted himself in the United States Air Force. In the Air Force, Vera joined the wrestling team and trained at the United States Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado. His military wrestling career was cut short in 1999 when he tore ligaments in his right elbow. Arthroscopic surgery repaired the ligaments, but he had nerve damage from the experience, causing him to be unable to use his right arm. He was released from the Air Force on a medical discharge.
Vera returned to Virginia where he steadily rehabilitated his arm, and eventually was fit enough to enter the Grapplers Quest submission wrestling competitions on the East Coast. There, his solitary training methods (he did not belong to a camp and trained and cut weight on his own) caught the attention of Lloyd Irvin, a Brazilian jiu-jitsu Black Belt and coach, who invited him to train with his school. At Irvin's school, he was introduced to mixed martial arts.
Mixed martial arts career
Vera's first professional mixed martial arts bout was on July 6, 2002, while training under Lloyd Irvin. He won the fight against Adam Rivera via TKO in the first round. He fought and won another bout in 2004 before entering the WEC 13 Heavyweight Tournament in 2005, where he won two bouts in one night, including a bout against The Ultimate Fighter 2's Mike Whitehead in the final.
Vera then moved to San Diego, California, on December 31, 2003, to accept a training position with City Boxing. At City Boxing, Vera excelled as a trainer and was taken under the wing of owner Mark Dion, who became his manager and introduced him to kickboxing great Rob Kaman. With Vera's success as a trainer and a mixed martial arts fighter, Dion gave Vera partial ownership of City Boxing.
Ultimate Fighting Championship
Vera made his UFC debut at Ultimate Fight Night 2 on October 3, 2005, against BJJ black belt Fabiano Scherner. Vera won the fight via KO due to knees from the clinch midway through the second round. Following the Scherner bout, he faced Justin Eilers at UFC 57, winning early in the first round by KO. At UFC 60, Vera defeated Assuerio Silva with a guillotine choke in the first round. On November 18, he stopped former heavyweight champion Frank Mir by TKO due to strikes in just 69 seconds at UFC 65 in Sacramento, California.
White had been telling the media prior to UFC 65 that the winner of the Vera-Mir fight would face the winner of the Tim Sylvia-Jeff Monson bout, which was also being held that same night, for the championship. Vera's victory secured him a championship bout against then title-holder Tim Sylvia, but a contract dispute with the UFC forced him to be replaced by Randy Couture.
In August, the UFC announced the "return" of Vera. His first fight was at UFC 77 against Sylvia, who had recently lost the UFC Heavyweight Championship to Couture. Vera lost for the first time via unanimous decision. He also broke his left hand at 4:40 of the first round.
Vera had his second loss at UFC 85 against Brazilian jiu-jitsu specialist Fabrício Werdum via TKO. The fight was controversially stopped by referee Dan Miragliotta as Werdum mounted him and landed some ground and pound. After the stoppage, Vera was upset as he felt he was defending himself effectively.
After his two recent losses, Vera dropped down to the Light Heavyweight division, facing IFL alum Reese Andy at UFC Fight Night 14 on July 19, 2008, on Spike TV. Vera defeated Andy via unanimous decision.
At UFC 89, Vera lost to Keith Jardine via a narrow split decision. Following the fight, Vera incurred criticism for his performance since his return to the UFC having been victorious in only one of his last four fights.
A more focused Vera appeared on the preliminary card of UFC 96. It was the first time Vera was not on the main card since he made his debut in the UFC. He had an impressive performance against Mike Patt, showing a more aggressive and intense striking approach and stopping him via TKO (leg kicks) in the second round.
Vera fought Polish fighter Krzysztof Soszynski at UFC 102 after his original opponent, Matt Hamill, was forced to drop out due after suffering a meniscus tear while training. Vera won via unanimous decision (30–27, 30–27, 30–27).
Vera lost a close fight to Randy Couture via unanimous decision on November 14, 2009 at UFC 105, with the media comparing the decision to a previous UFC event (UFC 104 Machida-Rua) which prompted that MMA judging should be changed. Despite Vera significantly outstriking Couture and successfully defending numerous takedown attempts, judges awarded the victory to Couture. The verdict surprised many people; UFC commentator Joe Rogan was highly critical of the decision during the live event broadcast and in a post-fight interview, Randy Couture admitted that he didn't expect the decision to be made in his favor.
Vera faced Jon Jones on March 21, 2010, at UFC Live: Vera vs. Jones and lost via TKO in the first round after an elbow from Jones broke Vera's face in three places.
Vera was defeated by Brazilian Thiago Silva via unanimous decision 30–26, 30–27, 30–27 on January 1, 2011 at UFC 125. At the end of the third round, Vera stood up to reveal a badly broken nose. Vera was released by the UFC with a 7–6 record in the organization. However following the fight it was revealed that his opponent Thiago Silva had failed the post-fight drug test. As a result of this, Vera was re-hired by the UFC and the result of the Silva fight was changed to a no contest, resulting in Vera's UFC record changing to 7–5–0–1.
Vera defeated Eliot Marshall on October 29, 2011 at UFC 137 via unanimous decision (29–28, 29–28, 29–28).
Vera was briefly linked to a rematch Thiago Silva on May 15, 2012 at UFC on Fuel TV: Korean Zombie vs. Poirier. However, Vera was forced out the bout with an injury.
Vera was expected to face Australian James Te-Huna on July 11, 2012 at UFC on Fuel TV: Munoz vs. Weidman. However, Vera was pulled from the bout with Te-Huna to face Maurício Rua on August 4, 2012 at UFC on Fox: Shogun vs. Vera. Vera was defeated via TKO late in the fourth round. Vera showed great heart after being rocked early in the second round, but as both fighters showed early signs of fatigue in the late stages of the second round, Vera ultimately succumbed to Rua's power. This fight is widely considered the best performance of Vera's career, despite the loss.
Vera returned to the Heavyweight division after an absence of 5 years and faced Ben Rothwell at UFC 164 on August 31, 2013. After a competitive first and second round, Rothwell defeated Vera by TKO in the third round. Subsequent to the bout, Rothwell tested positive for elevated testosterone levels. The UFC suspended Rothwell for nine months, despite the Wisconsin commission only issuing him with an administrative warning.
Vera was released from the UFC on June 17, 2014, ending his eight-year run with the promotion.
On July 13, 2014, it was confirmed that Vera had signed with Singapore-based promotion ONE FC. His debut was on December 5, 2014 against Igor Subora at ONE Fighting Championship: Warrior's Way. Vera won the fight via knockout after landing a counter straight left at 3:54 minutes in the first round.
On December 11, 2015, Vera faced Paul Cheng in the main event at ONE Championship: Spirit of Champions. He won the fight via knockout just 26 second into the first round to win the ONE Heavyweight Championship.
After nearly a year away from the cage, Vera returned to face Hideki Sekine at ONE Championship: Age of Domination on December 2, 2016. He successfully defended his Heavyweight title, winning by TKO in the first round.
Vera's former wife, Kerry, is also a mixed martial artist who formerly fought for the now-defunct Strikeforce. She was featured on the second season of Oxygen's Fight Girls. In September 2014, Kerry filed for divorce.
Vera is engaged to Jessica Craven, the couple announced their engagement in April 2017. Vera has a tattoo on his back, inked in the Filipino writing system called Baybayin. Clockwise, it reads mundo (earth), hangin (wind), apoy (fire) and tubig (water).
While staying in the Philippines, he trained Filipino actor, Richard Gutierrez, in martial arts and has been given a role as an assassin for Philippine primetime television show, Kamandag on the GMA Network.
In the latter part of his training for UFC 89, Vera was reportedly held at gun point by two men attempting to rob the house in which he was staying. Vera stated that the incident did not affect his performance against Keith Jardine.