Facing the Truth: Interview with UFC Light Heavyweight Brandon Vera
Paul Pierce. One of hit singer Prince's album's. What shall set you free. Brandon Vera. See the connection? If not, you soon shall.
It was seven years ago this July when Brandon "The Truth" Vera had his first professional mixed martial arts win over Adam Rivera. In those seven years, most would say that Vera's improved. They are right.
Vera is a very down-to-earth, fun-loving guy who has a bright career ahead of himself in the UFC. I was lucky enough to talk to Vera during an interview a few days ago, and one thing "The Truth" does not lack is humor. Vera also talked about his wife's MMA debut, what his ultimate goal is (or still is) in the UFC, and who his next fight will come against.
Nick: Brandon, why don’t you tell fans out there how training’s been going, and any adjustments you’ve been making since your last fight with Mike Patt.
Brandon: Training is going great. Adjustments? I haven’t made any adjustments since Mike Patt. I’ve just continued on what I’ve been doing since Mike Patt. I’ve just continued training and committed to training harder since then.
Nick: There’s many rumors flying around that your next bout comes at UFC 102 against a very tough Matt Hamill. Is there any truth (pardon the pun) to that rumor, and how do you feel you match up with Hamill?
Brandon: (Chuckle) I match up with Hamill just like I match up with any other 205’er in the UFC. He’s dangerous just like any of them. I am fighting Hamill at Portland, Oregon at [UFC] 102, and I am looking very forward to this fight for fans, and for myself.
I just want to see how much more I can improve and keep improving, and at what pace I can improve. Hamill is a tough dude, and he’s strong as hell. [Hamill] doesn’t get rattled, he doesn’t get nervous a lot, so it’s going to be a good fight.
Nick: You first flirted with the Heavyweight division upon entering the UFC, and you’ve since moved down to Light Heavyweight. Which division do you feel has the better fighters, and how have you changed your fight game to accommodate the change?
Brandon: I have definitely had to change my fighting style at 205 to accommodate the weight class. The guys at 205 are a lot more than, well I don’t want to say better shape; I guess you could say better shape, it’s just a different kind of shape I guess. So I had to learn how to adjust there.
Better fighters? It’s you-pick-them.
I mean the 205 division is probably one of the best divisions in the world right now, in any organization anywhere. You’ve got the deepest pool of talented guys in the world. So better fighters, of course 205 does, but don’t get it twisted like the UFC’s Heavyweight division’s slow by any means.
So to compare the two is kind of unfair, but, both divisions definitely have their set of guys that are good as hell.
Nick: When you first started in the UFC you said that your goal is to hold championship gold in more than one division. In light of recent short title reigns in the two divisions, has that goal changed at all, or are you just focused on one belt right now?
Brandon: Hold two titles at the same time! I’m focused on one belt right now, but that goal still never changes. That’s the ultimate goal.
That’ll be when I know I’ve done my job as a fighter and I can retire with full complete satisfaction; [when] I know I’ve done the best I can do, and to hold both belts at the same time would be the s***.
That is still the ultimate goal. Call me cocky, but that will be the end game for me.
Nick: Many different fighters have different reasons for fighting; some fight for their families, some for the money, and some for the fame. Why do you fight?
Brandon: For my family. Definitely for my family. I just want to make sure my family doesn’t have to struggle, or at least I can help with their struggles and make sure that my family, this generation, is provided for better than last generation and hopefully that will just keep going you know?
Nick: I know you have a lot of pride in your heritage. Your web site is plastered with fans sharing the same heritage as you. Can you just comment on that and how you embrace your heritage?
Brandon: I mean, I grew up Filipino. Like, if I took my house on the block and put it in the Philippines, I wouldn’t have been able to tell the difference.
You know, it’s hard to explain; it’s a lifestyle and it’s how I’ve known to grow up, and how I respect my elders and respect my roots and how I’m constantly reminded of my history, the history of people.
It’s not just the Philippines, it’s the history of America as well. I’m a history buff, and I love the stuff. I don’t retain a lot of information but I love learning about it, even if I learn about the same thing three or four times it’s still exciting everytime I hear it again. So, it’s life!
Nick: Even to go as far as another sport, how do you feel about [Manny] Pacquiao in boxing and how he’s represented the Filipinos?
Brandon: He’s the man. He has done so much for the Filipino’s community and people and nation. As one person, he’s done a lot and he’s definitely a role model. His work ethic and his determination in the cage, I’m sorry, the ring is ridiculous.
It’s like every round he gets stronger and stronger and that’s something I strive for, because if we have to go to a third round, I gotta give it to this guy who has stayed with me in here for one more round.
When I get to the third round, I’m gonna give it to him even harder than the first or second round, you know, just because he’s still here. So he’s definitely a role model, for everybody, not just Filipinos but everybody.
Nick: Speaking of family, I know your wife was just successful in her Women’s MMA debut. What emotions were running through your mind as the fight went on?
Brandon: Man, I mean, neverousness, paranoia. You name them, I probably felt it; (chuckle) fear, everything...everything.
Nick: How do you think she feels when you're in the Octagon? You think she worries more than you? The same?
Brandon: Yeah, the same probably. I mean, definitely.
Nick: Listening to some of the commentators for that fight, they noticed that you weren’t cornering your wife for the fight, yet you had a hands-on approach towards training her. What’s that like training with your wife?
Brandon: It is what it is you know? I don’t train with my wife. We have the same coaches and we train at the same time but we don’t train together. We’ll train, even if we’re doing a team training together, she’ll train beside me but I don’t train with her.
If I do train with her, it’s only, maybe two or three things max. We’re just reviewing things and I tell her stuff that I want her to work on that I see, but other than that I don’t train with the Mrs.
Nick: Do you think there’s tips from men's MMA that you could give to her that would help improve her in women’s MMA?
Brandon: Well, that’s what I do. The three or four things that I have her working on is exactly what it’s for. Other than that, I don’t train her, I don’t do anything.
Once in a while you’ll see me holding pads for her, but it’s for the workout, but you know it’s kind of weird. We try to stay away from each other while we’re training.
Nick: Does she give you any tips at all going into your fights and if she did, how would you take that?
Brandon: I would take it as it comes. I don’t know what I think, but she doesn’t.
Nick: What do you like doing outside the Octagon in your spare time?
Brandon: Everything that Southern California has to offer. Biking, mountain biking, playing with my dogs, going to the shooting range. Anything. I like doing everything outside of the gym. Anything outdoors I like, or building things I like.
Nick: You like staying active?
Brandon: Yeah, for sure.
Nick: A few months ago you sat down with Ed Soares and current Light Heavyweight Champion Lyoto Machida on the set of Inside MMA. How badly would you like to fight Machida, and would you say you're prepared to fight him right now?
Brandon: Right now I’m not prepared to fight Machida but in eight weeks I could be. You know I would love to fight Machida. He’s the f****** man. He’s the man, I mean, his style, he doesn’t get away from his style and he’s beating the s*** out of people.
Right now, I think Machida is the pound-for-pound 205 Light Heavyweight champion. I think he is going to hold on to the belt for awhile. I am excited to earn the right to fight Machida and I would be more than happy to fight Machida when the time comes.
Nick: On that same episode you had mentioned that 2008 was a year when your “Head got big” and that you had made some money and gotten popular. How do you feel you’ve recovered from that, and do, as you said, “all the things you did to get to the UFC?”
Brandon: It was just, [I] came to the realization that stuff is just stuff no matter how nice it is or how expensive it is. Once you get down to it, it’s just stuff. It’s just s***. All of it is just s***.
Who was it, Katt Williams I think, or Dave Chappelle said that they have a nice house now and they bought this vase that cost $25,000. Then, he was looking at the vase one day and said I can’t believe I paid $25,000 for that vase. What the f*** am I thinking? It’s kind of like that man.
I guess everybody has to go through it in their career and I’m glad I went through it super early in my career and not later on down the road. It’s a learning process I guess you could say.
This whole MMA thing, everything’s a process, and I guess I just had to earn mine, my bumps and bruises along the way. I don’t want to say it derailed my career but instead of me taking the shortcut that we laid the plan out for earlier, we’re going to have to take the long road.
Climb from the ground up so, I’m glad it happened in a way but I’m super glad that 08’ is f****** out of here.
Nick: How many fights would you like to fight each year if you had your choice? If you were Joe Silva, how many fights would you schedule you for and why?
Brandon: Joe Silva wants me to fight as often as possible and I’m fighting. When I come, it’s gonna be, I’m gonna scramble with people on the ground or on the feet. For me personally? Two or three fights a year I’m happy with.
Nick: If you had to pinpoint one weak area of your fighting, what would you say it is?
Brandon: [Hesitates] I would say my footwork.
Nick: So how are you going to go about improving that with your fight with Hamill, and even beyond that?
Brandon: I don’t have to improve my footwork too much for Hamill. I will be working on it and just trying to improve it but I’ll be working on it at the gym.
Nick: Last question before I let you go. Name the one fighter you would love to fight right now, and the one fighter you would not want to fight right now.
Brandon: I don’t have an answer for either of those questions! There’s not really anyone.
Nick: Well Brandon, I really want to thank you for taking the time to talk to me today. Are there any shoutouts you have before you go?
Brandon: I just want to thank my sponsors for sure. Definitely want to thank TRX suspension training system. It’s been helping leaps and bounds for my athleticism I guess and my strength.
I want to thank all the fans that have stuck by me through the thick and thin. '09’s going to be a good year and that’s it.
Nick: Thanks again, thanks for joking around, and so much luck to you in your next fight!
Brandon: Thank you very much and I appreciate it. Have a good day!
I'll end with a very appropriate quote: "Don't believe the hype; believe what you see." And that's the truth.
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