The controlled fury of Brandon Vera

Rick Olivares - The Philippine Star

When it rains, it pours.

His eight-year ride with the Ultimate Fighting Championship ended with an unceremonious statement to the press that he has been released (despite repeated promises by UFC President Dana White to fix his contract) last June. Despite getting stiffed with questionable fight decisions and kept on the shelf with unfulfilled promises, Brandon Vera remained a loyal soldier.

Then about a month and a half ago from today, his wife Kerry informed him that she wanted a divorce.

“It’s a good thing that there are a lot of things happening in my life right now that I’m too busy to sit down and mope and feel bad for myself,” admitted Vera, who sat at the lounge of the Discovery Suites with the clouds outside hinting rain. “My trainers are saying that I’m in the best shape of my life.”

Years ago, Ernesto Vera, laid down one of life’s basic truths to his son, Brandon: “Life is difficult. It is tough. It always is. So when you fall down, you have to stand up and move on.”

The son took that as gospel truth and ever since, it has been a mantra for him. Never mind if he was supposed to fight Tim Sylvia, only he wasn’t put on the line for a title fight because of “contract problems”. Never mind if he and everyone on this planet felt that he beat Randy Couture but ended up losing in a judges’ decision.

Never mind if he was lying in a hospital bed during his US Air Force days, temporarily blinded and unable to use his arm during a training accident that saw him tear some ligaments.

Never mind if his wife of eight years is leaving him.

There’s an uneasy pause. The answer comes in a controlled and measured burst.

“In the public view, I am not allowed to crack because I am a superhero, brother,” he says emphatically. “What my father told me is what keeps me going. We didn’t have too much growing up and times were hard. We went through hard times as a family, but we didn’t crack. Dad never ever cracked and his life was hard. There is no way that anything will break me. If you quit, the people who had hope in you will have nothing else to believe in. So I do not crack and I do not quit.”

To understand Brandon Vera, you will have to go back and know that although wrestling gave him something he could be good at, it was his stint in the Air Force that taught him discipline.

And fighting in the UFC taught him patience, understanding, preparation and respect for others and for yourself.

“My career, just like life is filled with peaks and valleys,” explained Vera who waxed philosophical. “When you understand that you know you cannot stay on top forever. When you accept that then you look at things from a different perspective and don’t let things faze you.”

When he lay in that hospital bed unsure if he will ever regain the use of his arm or and eyesight, Brandon wanted to know only one thing, “When will I fight again?”

“When the UFC offered me a contract extension that was so ridiculous, I said, ‘Hell, no.’ I thought that it was like a slap on my face so they can take it and shove it wherever you want. I have other businesses and things going to keep me going. But Dana (White) called to ask what’s going on and to say that he wanted to fix it. And I am cool with that. But they kinda kept dangling the carrot but no call came.”

“With all the other organizations calling, I said I won’t sign anything until I talk to Dana and I am a man of my word. Dana didn’t call even if he was back from China. I know he is a busy man so I called him and he was like, ‘Yeah okay, kid. You and Asia makes a lot of sense. Good luck.’ It was a bittersweet ending. It was cool to hear from him but it left a bad taste in my mouth.”

Now, Vera is in the One FC. And he is proud to be associated with MMA’s fastest-growing fight organization.

“Uh uh,” said Brandon with a shake of his head. “No way is the One FC the den for washed-up UFC fighters,” said Vera with a sneer.

“One FC is a step backwards? Take your blinders off and see what you have done in the last two years and compare that to other fight orgs and how they are doing, taking care of their fighters etc. and you’ll find out that One FC is at the top of the game. And I want to be a part of that. And I am even more proud that it’s Asian with a lot of Filipinos in it (referring to Victor Cui, One FC’s President and CEO, who is a Canadian of Filipino lineage).

Vera is on his nth wind – you heard him say that he’s been through peaks and valleys in his 37 years on planet earth. “I’m not yet done,” he pronounced. “I have gas in the tank and I am going to show it.”

Come December 5 at the Mall of Asia Arena, I pity the poor fool he is facing because controlled fury is going to be in the house.

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