Marlon “Chito” Vera may finally get the respect he deserves after knocking out Frankie Edgar with a vicious front kick at UFC 268, which took place this past weekend (Sat., Nov,. 6, 2021) in Las Vegas, Nevada (recap here). As if the foot to the face didn’t look mean enough in real time (and in slow motion), a photo from Louis Grasse of Icon Sportswire captured the exact moment contact was made and Edgar’s face contorted with the raw force of the blow.
It’s an amazing photograph that shows you just how brutal the sport is, and how much damage these guys are taking for our entertainment. So of course everyone on Twitter started meme’ing the hell out of it and making fun of “The Answer.”
Even Vera — who has every reason to want that photo to become immortalized — isn’t too into the photo and what it’s turned into.
“It’s a f—ked up picture,” Vera said on The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani. “I don’t post it. It’s f—ked up.”
“I put it like this: it’s him or me, right? It’s my family that I gotta bring the bread home versus your family. It’s like ... I’m sorry, f—k you for that. I’m gonna do everything to provide for my family, for my loved ones. And we’re fighting for that. A better future, for everything at our homes. But it’s a f—ked up picture. I don’t post that picture. Everyone’s tagging me. I don’t even want to reply.
“The guy’s still got a family, still got a life,” Vera continued. “And that was Saturday night. So for me, how I see things, Saturday night was special, it will be in my heart forever. But I don’t live from that memory. Those three minutes of fame when you’re cool? A lot of people make that mistake and then they go downhill because they think they’ll be in that position forever. The fight’s gone. Monday comes, I’m back on the horse. My mind’s already thinking ahead: I’m going to fight somebody else, this fight doesn’t matter. I’m already thinking of what’s coming.”
“And going back to the picture: it’s a f—ked up picture. It’s almost like, if I posted it, it’s a little bit disrespectful. If that’s me at the other end of the rope and the other guy posts it, I don’t really care. I got a thick skin. I’d be like okay, I’m a loser, I gotta get better, I gotta figure it out. But I wouldn’t do it.”
That may be surprising to some given how Vera showed so little respect for Edgar in the cage, going so far as to throw the former champ the double birds after the second round. But, as far as Vera was concerned, that was just part of the mental battle.
“The ref literally jumped between us, and normally people shake hands when the round is over,” Vera said. “We just look at each other, we go chest to chest, whatever. He went and gave me that look like ‘Yeah! You want to hurt me or whatever, I’m here to fight.’ And I can’t just look away like ‘Oh, I don’t want to have eye contact with you.’ I believe that’s getting defeated mentally. So I locked my eyes on his eyes and was like ‘What?’ He keep looking at me, so I was like, ‘You know what, f—k you!’”
“Those are mind games,” he added. “We’re fighting. We’re in a fist fight. We’re not playing any games. In that period of time I was thinking if I look down and walk away, he’s gonna be like ‘Oh, he gave up in this little exchange.’ I’m like ... that’s not me. I’m going to fight fire with fire. And I don’t mind getting in the dirt.”
What’s amazing about the front kick knockout is it wasn’t a specific secret death move Vera planned on using, but rather just one tool in an arsenals developed by his coach Jason Parillo at RVCA to punish Edgar’s wrestling style.
“We worked it a little,” Vera said. “Parillo made me work a lot of things down the pipe or under because this guy is a wrestler. You throw a big right hook and he’s going to come right under that ... and he should. [Coach] told me one thing: ‘You will see everything. Stay focused. You have very good reflexes. Make him pay for everything. Every time he touches you, you have to let something go.’”
The win advances Vera to 18-7-1 and 2-1 since his career changing win over Sean O’Malley back in Aug. 2020. But, unlike the O’Malley win, no one can discredit Vera on how he beat Edgar. So what’s next for “Chito”?
“I would love to fight Aldo again just because he’s in the top five,” Vera said shortly after his UFC 268 win. “Dominick Cruz is fighting Pedro Munhoz, but I think I’m already over them in the rankings after this win, so whatever comes I’ll be ready.”
For complete UFC 268 results and coverage click here.