Brandon Vera was brought up in Norfolk, Virginia where he lived with his Filipino father and Filipino step mother. At high school he excelled in wrestling and earned a wrestling scholarship to university, but he chose to drop out and joined the Air Force instead.
After being medically discharged due to an arm injury, Vera began to study the art of submission grappling, at first on his own and then as part of a team. He soon transitioned to the cage and made his professional debut in 2002, winning by first-round TKO.
In 2005, he stopped two opponents in a single night to become the WEC Heavyweight Grand Prix winner. He signed with another major promotion a few months later, and won his first four bouts, culminating in a win over former heavyweight world champion Frank Mir.
Over his fabled career, Vera has faced some of the biggest names in the world, including Fabricio Werdum, Randy Couture, Jon Jones, and Mauricio Rua. In 2014, he signed with ONE Championship, and stopped URCC champion Igor Subora in his promotional debut. This earned him a shot at the inaugural ONE Heavyweight World Championship, which he seized by scoring a TKO victory of Paul Cheng in just 26 seconds.