MANILA, Philippines -- Filipino-American mixed martial arts (MMA) star Brandon Vera knows he has his work cut out for him when he makes his return to ONE Championship this month.
Vera last fought in October 2019, wherein he suffered a stoppage loss against Aung La N Sang in a light-heavyweight showdown.
This time, he returns to his own division to defend his ONE heavyweight title against India's Arjan "Singh" Bhullar at ONE: Dangal, a tape-delayed event from the Singapore Indoor Stadium that airs on May 15.
"As a fighter, I think Arjan is one of the top athletes that ONE Championship has. He's got a great wrestling background. His boxing is amazing. He's got a dangerous overhand right," said Vera of his upcoming opponent.
"The Truth" assures that he and his team are preparing for Bhullar as well as they can.
"We've been training for him. We've been watching film. We all watch film together like once or twice, take notes and drill, drill, drill, go over counters, go over offense," said Vera. "We just train for Arjan."
"He's got great head movement. He doesn't mind staying in the pocket. If you get close to him, he'll grab your leg and take you down. He'll ground-and-pound you. He's got a lot of gas in the tank. He's definitely a dangerous opponent," he added.
Bhullar is a Commonwealth Games Wrestling Gold Medalist who has been a martial artist his whole life. Tracing his roots to Billi Bhullar village in the Jalandhar district of the North Indian state of Punjab, Bhullar is based out of Canada and even represented the country at the 2012 London Olympics.
After competing in the UFC, Bhullar joined ONE Championship in October 2019, defeating former ONE World Title challenger Mauro Cerilli.
While Bhullar is impressive, Vera insists that there are holes in his game -- though the 43-year-old veteran is in no mood to reveal them.
"If you want to see his weaknesses, you just have to watch the event. See what I do," Vera said.
Already, he is anticipating what Bhullar will do come fight time.
"He's going to try and take me down, then wear me out on the ground. Ground-and-pound and box with me a little bit. Try to rinse and repeat. Try to do that until he gasses me out across five rounds. I think that's his game plan," Vera predicted.
"Touch and move, look for his takedown, move and box some more, then ground-and-pound."
Vera is confident that he can counter Bhullar's plans and finish him with his striking. "The Truth" has shifted his training camp from the Philippines to Sanford MMA in Florida, a move that saw him train extensively with renowned coach Henri Hooft for this all-important world title defense.
"I'm back to the Dutch Kickboxing, with Henri Hooft. That is something amazing. You can see that when I first started my career, when I was training with a Dutch Kickboxer," he said. "The most prominent thing that I have gained out of this training camp, and it's going to be really weird, I see everything right now. I can see everything when I'm in front of somebody. That hasn't happened in a while, so I'm excited about what I can see with Arjan."
ONE: Dangal features several other Indian MMA stars, including atomweight phenom Ritu "The Indian Tigress" Phogat, Gurdarshan "Saint Lion" Mangat, and Roshan Mainam.