Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Bantamweight veterans Frankie Edgar and Marlon Vera will go to war this weekend (Sat., Nov. 6, 2021) at UFC 268 inside Madison Square Garden in New York City, New York.
Glover Teixeira may have turned back the clock just a few nights ago, but the lighter weight classes are even harsher on aging athletes, and former champion Edgar seems to be finding out the hard way. The 40-year-old legend has split a pair of bouts since moving down to 135 pounds, but if one takes a step back, the simple truth is that Edgar has been losing more often than not as of late. The same cannot be said for “Chito.” Somewhere around 2018, Vera really started putting it all together, and he developed into one of his division’s most consistent action fighters as a result. He’s broken into the rankings as a result, though the title picture continues to elude him.
Let’s take a closer look at the keys to victory for each man:
Key Wins: Pedro Munhoz (UFC on ESPN 15), B.J. Penn (TUF 19 Finale, UFC 118, UFC 112), Chad Mendes (TUF 22 Finale), Gray Maynard (UFC 136), Jeremy Stephens (UFC 205), Cub Swanson (UFC Fight Night 128, UFC Fight Night 57), Urijah Faber (UFC Fight Night 66)
Key Losses: Jose Aldo (UFC 200, UFC 156), Cory Sandhagen (UFC Vegas 18), Max Holloway (UFC 240), Brian Ortega (UFC 222), Chan Sung Jung (UFC Fight Night 165)
Keys to Victory: Despite the recent struggles, Edgar remains no slouch. He’s still one of the best at mixing together his wrestling and boxing, and when able to take his opponent down, Edgar rarely comes up short.
Wrestling certainly seems to be the key here. A year or two ago, perhaps Edgar stood a fair shot at frustrating Vera with movement and volume, but that’s no longer the case. At this point, an extended standup battle seems to really guarantee that Vera hurts him at some point, and few are better at swarming than the Ecuador native.
It’s pretty simple: Edgar has to take down and control Vera to win this fight. Fortunately, others have done it before, although it rarely looks easy. Vera can be convinced to reach with his punches, providing good openings to his hips. In addition, Vera has always exceled more with submissions from his back, a strategy that has never bothered “The Answer.”
If Jose Aldo can steal a round off Vera via takedowns and back control, perhaps Edgar can take a couple in similar fashion.
Key Wins: Sean O’Malley (UFC 252), Davey Grant (UFC Vegas 29), Brian Kelleher (UFC on FOX 25), Frankie Saenz (UFC Fight Night 148), Brad Picket (UFC Fight Night 107)
Key Losses: Jose Aldo (UFC Vegas 17), Song Yadong (UFC on ESPN 8), Douglas Silva de Andrade (UFC Fight Night 125), John Lineker (UFC Fight Night 119)
Keys to Victory: Marlon Vera finishes fights. “Chito” has combined brutal distance kickboxing with nasty body shots and painful clinch work to become a truly punishing striker, and if his opponent slips up at all on the canvas, the black belt has finished eight of his foes via submission.
14 years into his UFC career, the blueprint is out on Frankie Edgar, particularly in the standup department. For all his movement, Edgar can still be timed with straight shots as he bursts forward, and his calf is definitely there to be kicked. Vera is an experienced striker, and he’ll surely be looking to capitalize on those traits.
As Edgar’s section implies, the greatest key to victory here for Vera is that he remains on his feet. He has to be wary of overextending on his strikes, throwing catchable kicks, and having his back to the fence. If Vera is taken down, he has to start scrambling before Edgar can establish top position.
Vera’s violence at all ranges should help him ward away takedown attempts as well.
Neither man can really afford to lose this bout.
Edgar remains ranked inside the Top 10 on the strength of his split-decision over Pedro Munhoz, but that win cannot sustain him indefinitely. If the New Jersey native is to remain among the best 135-pounders in the world, he has to turn away Vera. Otherwise, he’s may slip from the rankings entirely, and UFC hasn’t been particularly kind to older former champions on losing streaks lately.
The stakes are high for Vera as well, who has gone just 2-2 after his five-fight win streak pushed him into the ranks. “Chito” still has some momentum and a solid fanbase — thanks “Suga” — but he doesn’t want to become the next young fighter that gets shown up by Edgar. Victory could propel him into the Top 10, but at the same time, a loss would really shut him down.
At UFC 268, Frankie Edgar and Marlon Vera will open the main card with a Bantamweight scrap. Which man will earn the victory?
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 268 fight card right here, starting with the early ESPN+ “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard balance on ESPNEWS/ESPN+ at 8 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN+ PPV.
To check out the latest and greatest UFC 268: “Usman vs. Covington 2” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.
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