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ONE FC's Brandon Vera comfortable with UFC release: 'The respect wasn't there'

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Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Brandon Vera could not be happier with ONE FC. He's just rubbed the wrong way by how things ended between him and his former employer.

Vera told MMA Fighting that after he turned down the UFC's initial contract extension offer earlier this year, he found out from social media that he had been released from the organization. No one from the UFC picked up the phone to call him first.

"It wasn't handled the way it should be," said Vera, who had been with the organization for nine years. "I was a loyal employee, never did anything incorrectly. Never beat up my wife. Never had a DUI. The respect wasn't there."

Vera (12-7, 1 NC) said he reinjured his broken hand in a loss to Ben Rothwell at UFC 164 in August 2013. He didn't rush and wanted to make sure it healed correctly before taking another fight. In the spring, he had discussions with the UFC about extending his contract and he turned down the offer.

According to Vera, UFC president Dana White then phoned him to see if they could work out a deal.

"Let's talk about this," Vera said White told him. "Let's fix this. I'd really like to have you finish out your career here. I said, 'OK.' He said, 'I'll call you back when I get back from China.' He never called me back."

Just a few days later, Vera was stunned to learn from social media that he had been released by the UFC. He called White and left a message. He said White didn't return his call. Then, the offers began rolling in from other organizations, including ONE FC, Vera said. By the time Vera and White spoke again, Vera already had a significant offer from ONE FC.

"He said, 'Congrats kids, you and Asia make sense,'" Vera said of his conversation with White.

Vera said he has no hard feelings with White in particular. He just wishes UFC brass handled things differently. But it didn't matter anyway, because he loved everything ONE FC was offering him -- including a big bout in the Philippines. Vera is a Filipino-American and it has always been his dream to fight in the country. He will get that chance Friday in the co-main event of ONE FC: Warrior's Way against Igor Subora.

"I had no interest in UFC anymore at all," Vera said. "It worked out 100 percent in my favor."

Aside from the financial points of the contract, Vera is most pleased with how he has been treated thus far by ONE FC and its CEO Victor Cui. Respect is Vera's big buzzword and he said ONE FC treats every fight "like a modern-day samurai."

"We do it for the money," Vera said. "We do it for the fame. Some guys do it for the girls. Everybody has their own reason for doing it. One thing all fighters can agree about is respect. Chances, money and women is not respect. That comes with the business. Respect is its own self."

Vera, 37, has watched some of the videos Wanderlei Silva has put out on YouTube over the last few months and believes Silva makes some good points. He thinks the UFC has issues and fighters are starting to see the light. Vera hopes a fighters union will be developed one day.

"It's being noticed," Vera said. "Who's really making the money? People are bleeding, breaking bones, sweating and putting themselves on the line 100 percent of the time. Some normal people would say, 'Go get another job.' It's hard when you're locked into a contract."

Vera sees ONE FC as part of the new frontier and believes people in the U.S. don't realize the company's popularity in Asia. He said he was swarmed with fans and media during press events in Manila leading up to Warrior's Way.

"ONE FC is a whole different monster than the UFC," Vera said. "UFC is huge in America and the UK, Australia, a couple different places. The projected viewership in ONE FC is a billion viewers. They're in China. They're not in Macao or Hong Kong. They're in China."

Added Vera of the UFC: "If you want a race, you're already behind. If people want to doubt me, that's OK. Just follow the numbers. You don't have to believe me. Just watch."

Vera was once one of the top prospects in all of MMA and vowed to win titles at both heavyweight and light heavyweight. It didn't work out for him in the UFC, but "The Truth" believes he might have found the place he can spend the rest of his fighting days.

"It was the perfect fit," Vera said. "Good isn't the word. Perfect is the word. It's just meant to be."