LAS VEGAS – Marlon Vera stepped up to the occasion Saturday at the UFC Apex when he headlined his first show for the promotion.
In the five-round UFC on ESPN 35 main event, Vera (21-7-1 MMA, 11-6 UFC) put a beatdown on top contender Rob Font (19-6 MMA, 9-5 UFC) en route to a unanimous decision (48-47, 49-46, 49-46) victory. The win likely tosses him into the title conversation. More important to “Chito,” though, is the affirmation he knows what he’s doing.
“Every time you get in there, you learn the job,” Vera told reporters, including MMA Junkie, at a post-fight news conference. “So I feel confident with the skills we showed today. I feel like I’m getting better. I’ll be back in the gym next week and we’ll go from there.”
In each of the final four rounds, Vera had Font hurt to the point of nearly finishing the fight. Despite that, he played it cool, calm and collected. His passiveness drew some questions from the broadcasters and desk analysts, but Vera said the fact he didn’t go bananas to end the fight will serve him well in the long run.
“I have experience in there, so I didn’t want to get too crazy and try to finish him,” Vera said. “The couple elbows that I picked to land? Phew, he’s going to have a headache tomorrow. And that shows in his face. I just picked him apart and I showed I could hurt him. But I showed I can be composed, too. That’s a little more dangerous than a guy who just goes crazy and finishes the guy. Sometimes you’re not able to finish a guy in there. I showed today that I can be calm and collected in those situations.”
As for what’s next, Vera revealed one option interests him above all the rest. Sure, Henry Cejudo and T.J. Dillashaw are in the public conversation as possible opponents for champion Aljamain Sterling. But the top contender Vera is most focused on is an old foe: all-time featherweight great Jose Aldo.
“I would love to fight Aldo again, especially in a five-rounder – just because he declined a five-rounder when he fought in (2020), December,” Vera said. “I would love to kick his ass. If we get matched, I will finish him. I can guarantee you that.”
Vera and Aldo first fought in a three-round bout at UFC Fight Night 183 in December 2020, which Aldo won via unanimous decision. The victory kicked off a three-fight winning streak for Aldo, who has since picked up victories over Pedro Munhoz and Rob Font. In recent weeks, Aldo has made his case for being next in line for a bantamweight title shot.