UFC Vegas 53: UFC Apex, Las Vegas
If you placed this version of Marlon Vera next to his Ultimate Fighter Latin America self; you wouldn’t recognize him. The 29-year old Ecuadorian has grown leaps and bounds. Now the question becomes, just how high is Vera’s ceiling.
After demolishing Rob Font for five-rounds the duo has to be switching spots in the rankings (eighth and fifth). It now puts “Chito” square in the cross-hairs of the top of the bantamweight division. And he did that despite being massively out-struck by significant strikes 271-159. It seems the more Vera gets cracked; although he facially wears no damage, he enjoys it. Almost a bit sadistically.
Chito looks like he can fight 3 more rounds— Belal Muhammad (@bullyb170) May 1, 2022
“I feel like everything I dream in my life is happening. This is amazing. I’m living the dream. I’m going to be a world champion”Marlon “Chito” Vera
And he very well maybe, but there’s still a ways to go. Landing multiple key knockdowns against Font to steal rounds he walked away with an easy 48-47, 49-46 2x unanimous decision to extend his win streak to three. And those judges were being kind, albeit Font’s torrid output.
However at this point, Vera’s the more complete mixed martial artist. His mixing in of deadly accurate knees, elbows, and kicks broke the New England native down. It’s not a stretch to call this victory one that puts him on a higher thought level by the competition.
Had he pressed on the gas himself, there’s no doubt he would have picked up his 16th finish, adding to his most finishes in UFC bantamweight history (9). Maybe it was because of Font missing weight that he wanted him to just get through the rounds for more of a beating. Sort of like a cat playing with a dying mouse. And at any point referee Jason Herzog wouldn’t have been wrong to jump in and stop it.
Just How High Is Vera’s Ceiling
Two things have to come out of this win. First, another main event slot. Vera’s a fun fighter and although some don’t care for showboating; he does do some when he’s feeling it. And two, a big challenge for him. While there was immediate chatter of a fight with him and Cory Sandhagen, there’s a better fight. Not that that one wouldn’t be fun. However, he has lost two-in a row.
If Vera truly wants to wear gold one day, he has to check off past mistakes. He was beaten by Jose Aldo at the end of 2020. It’s time to see if all the corrections from that battle have been made and run that fight back. Aldo doesn’t chop away with low leg kicks as ferociously as he once did. He’s become more of a striker. And with his cage IQ, it makes him a title threat always. However, this version of Vera has better vision and focus. THAT may be all the difference Vera needs this time.