MANILA, Philippines -- Filipino mixed martial arts star Brandon "The Truth" Vera is one of many athletes who have come to enjoy online gaming, particularly during the long months of quarantine in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Vera, the reigning ONE Heavyweight World Champion, recently launched "Truth x Lakay Gaming," where he and members of Team Lakay such as Eduard Folayang and Joshua Pacio stream their gaming sessions.
It's part of the latest initiative of ONE Esports, which was launched in 2019 to bring together the unique ecosystems of martial arts and esports.
"I started gaming about a year ago with ONE Esports, and a couple of popular gaming live streamers in Quezon City," said Vera. "I believe it was with Rumble Royale and Kuya Pein and Kuya Lex."
"It has been a lot of fun so far, while being at home for now," he added.
Vera and Team Lakay usually stream the popular mobile game Mobile Legends: Bang Bang, although they have plans of branching out to other games in the future, including Call of Duty: Mobile and PUBG: Mobile.
For the reigning ONE heavyweight champ, esports has its similarities to his work inside the ONE Circle.
"The game is like a combat version of chess that changes every game, with an infinite amount of oncoming problems depending on characters and styles of play -- almost like our other job as martial artists," Vera observed.
"I think it is a stress reliever and a stress giver," he added, laughing. "It just depends on how serious the matches are."
"Either way, it is a lot more relaxing than our regular job."
Vera is currently in Guam, spending time with his wife Jessica and newborn son Atreyu. He is not slated to see action until 2021, possibly in a title defense against former UFC star Arjan Bhullar. With plenty of time in his hands, it won't be surprising if Vera competes in a public game in Mobile Legends.
And he warned fans whom he could potentially play against that he has gotten quite good at the game.
"No one noticed us until we started going live," said Vera. "They didn't know they were playing with world champions. Then everybody wanted to ask me about it."
"I would say I am in the 80th percentile when I'm playing smart," he added of his skills.