Interview: BRANDON VERA (part 2)

Written by: Keith Mills
2005-02-10

Brandon Vera recently won the WEC four-man Heavyweight tournament that was aired on HDNet. In part 1 Brandon described the fights from that night. Now we hear more about his training and City Boxing.KM: So how has the win affected you? BV: I train a lot and talk with Master Lloyd Irvin and he told me things are never as good as they seem or as bad as they seem. I just keep telling myself that, keep a level head. I find more and more training partners to whoop my ass. It was nice that night because all the Heavyweights that won, even Oliveira, want to come train with me now. I like Oliveira, I think we competed against each other a long time ago when I first started. He?s right down in Beverly Hills so we are going to start training together. It was nice but now its back to business. I broke my left hand on Whitehead?s head.KM: When was that? Before or after he took you to the ground? BV: It was the first round after the ref stood us up. He shoot in, I (sprawled) out, and threw a left hook and I hit him right on top of his head and smashed my knuckle in. KM: Did that have any effect on the second round? BV: No, I still hit him with my left hand. I couldn?t hit him as hard but I was still using it. I went to the doctor and he said its broke. Its in a cast right now.KM: WEC was on HDNet and have a good reputation for passing fighters on. Did that make you nervous at all or did you focus through that? BV: It did. There was a lot riding on this because first I wasn?t even in the tournament, it was just an alternate fight. Then I was the smallest guy in the tournament, then I was the favorite to win the tournament, then people were telling me if I won the tournament I had a good shot of going here or going here. I did the K-1 trials, I did the Pride trials, and I smacked everybody I went against. It was a lot of pressure. When I found out I was a favorite, that is when I got really nervous. I read on the (web) ?he lived up to the hype? so I?m glad that happened. KM: Outside of California you were the least known from a team perspective. City Boxing is known for Dean Lister when he was there. What else has been going on there? BV: So much. City Boxing is about to be real known real quick.KM: You have been training there for about a year? BV: About a year. I trained with Dean when I first go here but then he left. I guess him and Mark?not bad terms but not good terms either. They just kept bumping heads. It was better that way, that Dean is gone. He is doing his thing and we are doing ours. We opened up a second gym, we have Tyrone Glover here now, some real sick guys. Mark is trying to get a kickboxing instructor in from Holland. He?s going all-out. Our gym is one of the best facilities in the country and he is always looking for the best trainers. A gym is only as good as it?s trainers.KM: Speaking of which aren?t you a trainer there? BV: I am. All my students were stoked when I won.KM: What is your teaching schedule like? BV: I teach about four hours a day, that is it. 6:30 AM, 9, 10, and 12. KM: Did you have that kickboxing experience before coming to City Boxing? BV: I?ve only been doing jiu-jitsu for three years now. Muay Thai I?ve only been doing for two and a half years. It all started in Virginia and evolved from there. I always liked standing up. KM: You are a purple belt in jiu-jitsu? BV: Yeah. Everybody expects the ground guy. There is just too much ground stuff right now. I want to be on my feet, I want to bang. KM: The perception is that is where the money is. BV: It is. To me it?s a sport and this is my business. Quoting Lloyd ?if you treat this like a business it will pay you like a business, if you treat this as a hobby it will pay you as a hobby. I?ve trained with some of the top guys that are fighting and the way they are training I?m like ?what the hell? Is this all you are training today?? If this is your business you have to train like it is your business. I train standup every day.KM: You were the best conditioned fighter in that tournament. BV: 90% of the fights are won on conditioning, especially at the Heavyweight level. If you can just hang in there the first two rounds and that Heavyweight gets tired, his hands start to drop, you are going to win the fight. He is going to swing and miss and turn all the way around. KM: And that is something you stress at City Boxing? BV: Yeah. In our kickboxing classes you learn stuff but you are going to be well-conditioned as well. KM: Since Dean moved on people have wondered what affect that would have on the jiu-jitsu program. Has that been addressed? BV: It has. Are classes are more organized now. We are following a curriculum, classes start on time, we got rid of all the people that just sit around the mat, people are actually drilling in class and taking it more serious now. Not taking anything away from Dean, he is a great guy, but he has a lot of friends that train with him and they just kind of sit around and talk and not drill. Jiu-jitsu time is time to work, learn. Not hang out and bullshit, talk about this and talk about that. Its getting better. It was picking up and then the week before my fight I had open mat all week. I broke my hand so its open mat again this week again. KM: How is the broken hand going to affect your teaching and training? BV: For at least a month I can?t use my left hand at all. I can?t even jab with it. I?m just doing arm exercises to keep my shoulder burning the whole time. I can?t punch anything with my left hand for three months. There is goretex material inside my cast so I can still run, I?m still doing stadiums, I?m still doing drills and wind sprints up the hill?I?m still training, I just can?t use my left hand.KM: You weighed in at 218? BV: 224 with jeans on and my phone in my pocket. KM: Are you going to continue to fight at Heavyweight? BV: Honestly its all about the money from here on out. In high school I was 185 and wrestled 285. Its not a big problem with me?its going to suck but if they want to pay I?ll fight. KM: What is the significance of the tattoos? BV: I?m half Philippino. I grew up in a house, in a culture. I speak Tagalog, I?m very close with my roots, my culture. It?s called Ali Bata. It?s ancient Phillipino script before they were invaded by the Spaniards and forced to write manuscript. The tattoos on my back means earth, wind, water, and fire. The four elements of Mother Nature. It keeps me level-headed too because no matter who you think you are?I remember I was body boarding one time out in the ocean eleven foot, twelve foot waves smashed me. I thought I was a bad ass. Mother Nature just lets you know real quick you ain?t shit. The triangle in the middle of my back encompasses all; jiu-jitsu, boxing, kickboxing. It is done in bamboo. The eight is for infinity. Everybody in Team Lloyd Irvin has a number on them somewhere. KM: Sponsors to thank? BV: I want to thank Osiris Shoes, Throw Down Fight Gear, Mark Deon my manager, and Joe DiJulio. He was my first sponsor, an out-of-pocket sponsor. He was a lawyer in the Virginia area that said I was very promising and if I needed anything he would take care of it and he did. When I was short gas money he took care of it. Everybody I ever trained with I wanted to thank too. I always had really good people push me in the right direction. For more information check out www.cityboxing.com.