Marlon “Chito” Vera was on a mission at UFC Vegas 29 to prove he belonged at the top of the Bantamweight division, despite a disappointing decision loss to Jose Aldo back in Dec. 2020. That mission was a success with a rousing “Fight of the Night”-winning performance against an extremely tough and game Davey Grant ... just another one of those fights where the rankings may not reflect just how top the athletes involved really are.
But, rankings still matter, painfully so when it comes to locking in fights. Guys up the rankings don’t want to fight guys below them, and that leaves Marlon Vera — currently No. 15 at 135 pounds — challenging a bunch of higher-ranked division contenders who want nothing to do with him.
“I would like to fight with Cruz,” Vera said during the UFC Vegas 29 post-fight news conference. “It’s not like I’m dying for the fight, but I think it makes sense. But anybody in the top 10 to top five, I would love to fight. Since they gave me this rematch, I’d be willing to fight Aldo next, but I don’t think he’ll do it. Before the fight last time, he declined a five-rounder – so I think he knew. But f—k it. I take the loss like a man, I get better, and I was able to do that today.”
Cruz turned down Vera’s request as soon as it was made, but Marlon hopes UFC doesn’t give Cruz much of a choice in the matter.
“I respect him for that, but the UFC might call him for the fight,” he said. “We’ll see. If I’m not wrong, they called him before after my fight with Song Yadong, and I believe he declined it – so we’ll see what happens.”
During the ESPN+ post-fight show, Vera made it clear that he wasn’t too picky.
“I’ll fight anybody, and I proved it by taking this [Davey Grant] fight,” Vera said. “Because, let’s be real, after going in a close fight with Jose Aldo, [Grant] is a huge step back, and that’s a lot of pressure on me. He was getting in the rankings with a win. I don’t get much.
“But, I prepare myself very well, and anybody in front of me I’m going to put him out, and that’s what we came to do tonight,” he concluded.
For complete UFC Vegas 29 results and coverage click here.