Marlon “Chito” Vera has been a constant threat to the bantamweight division’s big names for years, but now the proud Ecuadorian can truly consider himself a title contender.
Vera outpointed No. 5-ranked Rob Font in the thrilling main event of UFC on ESPN 35 at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas to claim the 19th win of his career and extend his winning streak to three.
Boston’s Font was expected to offer a real threat with his technical volume striking, but Vera appeared not to care about the offense coming his way and answered with heavier, more powerful shots that, as the fight unfolded, started to bust up Font. By the end of the fight, Font’s face was a cut, swollen mess.
If you were scoring based on appearance, Vera’s win would have been a landslide, but Font’s technical striking kept him in contention throughout the fight. However, it was Vera’s power that proved decisive as he ran out the unanimous decision winner with scores of 48-47, 49-46, 49-46.
The fight earned Fight of the Night honours, and following Font’s failure to make weight on Friday, it meant Vera banked a bumper payday, with a $100,000 bonus joining his show and win money, plus the 20 percent of Font’s show money following his opponent’s weight miss.
But more importantly, it put Vera right in the title picture at 135 pounds.
“It means the world,” he said after his brilliant performance.
“I feel like everything (is a) dream. Everything I do in my life is happening. I’m happy for me, for my family.
“I’m so glad that I have somebody, Jason Parillo, that flipped my career and made me as the best person I can be. My father is here, screaming like a madman! My mom is here. This is amazing.
“I am living the dream. I’m going to be a world champion! I’m bringing the belt to Ecuador. Believe that!”
Vera knows he’s right in the mix for a title shot, and he said he wants to take on the division’s top names to make sure he gets it.
“(I want the fighters ranked) Four, three, and two. Let’s go. Any of those three. Anytime. Any moment,” he said.
“I’m ready to go. I’ll be back in the gym on Wednesday. There’s no stop. When you stop you stay behind. I’m a hard worker and everything I have in my life. I earn it. Let’s go.
“Thank you to the UFC. Thank you to Dana White, Sean Shelby, Hunter (Campbell) for this opportunity. This is amazing. I’m living the dream. If you work hard things come to your life, guys. Never stop. Never stop dreaming!”
UFC on ESPN 35: Official Results
- Marlon Vera def. Rob Font via unanimous decision(48-47, 49-46, 49-46)
- Andrei Arlovski def. Jake Collier via split decision (27-30, 29-28, 29-28)
- Joanderson Brito def. Andre Fili via TKO (punches) – Round 1, 0:41
- Grant Dawson def. Jared Gordon via submission (rear-naked choke) – Round 3, 4:11
- Darren Elkins def. Tristan Connelly via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
- Krzysztof Jotko def. Gerald Meerschaert via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
- Alexander Romanov def. Chase Sherman via submission (Kimura) – Round 1, 2:11
- Francisco Figueiredo def. Daniel Lacerda via submission (kneebar) – Round 1, 1:18
- Gabe Green def. Yohan Lainesse via TKO (punches) – Round 2, 4:02
- Natan Levy def. Mike Breeden via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)
- Shanna Young def. Gina Mazany via TKO (punches) – Round 2, 3:11