MANILA, Philippines -- ONE heavyweight world champion Brandon "The Truth" Vera is keeping an eye on the recent additions to his weight division, even as he spends some much needed quality time with his wife Jessica and their newborn son, Atreyu Timothy, in Guam during the COVID-19 pandemic.
ONE Championship recently bolstered its heavyweight division, and Vera is enthusiastic about a handful of potential match-ups.
One particular signing caught Vera's eye. The promotion announced last week that they had signed Brazilian grappling legend Marcus "Buchecha" Almeida -- one of the most prolific competitors of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu -- to its ranks.
"So I had to look up the proper name, because I only know that monster as Buchecha," Vera said. "He is a phenomenal athlete."
"I am very lucky to have that opportunity to possibly meet him in the ONE Circle," he added. "And it's not just him -- ONE signed a plethora of amazingly talented heavyweights."
The 30-year-old Almeida is one of the most accomplished BJJ practitioners in the world, having tallied 128 victories and only 13 losses in a career that started in 2011.
Vera knows exactly the type of "monster" he could be up against should he meet Almeida, and "The Truth" is all praises for "Buchecha."
"I am very familiar with his grappling accolades. He has beaten the best in the world and at any given moment, at any weight, he is one of the top two grapplers in the world against anyone. I am very excited he is making the transition to MMA," said Vera.
"I think it is the correct progression, after you win 13 world titles in grappling," he added. "There is no one else left for you to beat there. (I'm) looking forward to watching him and maybe even competing against him."
Vera has held the ONE heavyweight belt since 2015, when he captured it against Paul Cheng via knockout. Since then, he has successfully defended the title twice, via first-round finishes over Hideki Sekine and Mauro Cerilli.
After a failed bid at light heavyweight against Aung La N Sang, Vera is excited to get back in the Circle and continue his reign of dominance in his natural weight class. He is also confident that his jiu-jitsu can hang with "Buchecha," and that his overall skills will guide him through if he works hard enough.
"It's a very welcome challenge. My grappling and jiu-jitsu lineage is full of schools of hard knocks -- from Master Lloyd Irvin, to Dean Lister, to Andre Galvao, my catch-wrestling coach Neil Melanson, and everyone in between. I'm very confident in my jiu-jitsu capabilities," said Vera.
Vera's first order of business, however, is against India's Arjan Bhullar. Nothing has been finalized yet, but that bout may come later this year or in early 2021.
Should he emerge as champion after that match, Vera will have no shortage of challengers -- something that excites the 42-year-old veteran.
"The level of competition has just increased exponentially. ONE Championship is making a very comfortable home for the big boys and giving me a lot of work to do. I'm looking forward to all of it," said Vera.
(For more sports coverage, visit the ABS-CBN Sports website).