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UFC San Diego, The Morning After: Marlon Vera, built for five-round fights

Here’s what you may have missed!

UFC Fight Night: Vera v Cruz Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC

I do not represent Marlon Vera as an agent or manager, but if I did, my first demand would be pretty obvious: never book my client for a 15-minute fight again!

“Chito” is undefeated (2-0) in five-round fights, and that isn’t an accident. He boasts the perfect style for extended contests in a way that’s almost unmatched. He’s a master of analyzing the movements of opponents, tracking their patterns and understanding where their head is going to move. Time and time again, Vera loses the first round or two to gather this information, then just so happens to unleash a nasty strike in the precise location of his opponent’s skull.

It is not an accident. It’s not luck ... and it’s not even pure technique. Vera has instinct and trusts it, repeatedly proving himself by willingly losing minutes of the fight to ensure he capitalizes later on.

That’s a rare trait, but it’s not unique. Yoel Romero, for example, was pretty damn good at hanging back and watching until he exploded. Unlike the typical Romero-esque explosive finisher, however, Vera can also fight at a hard pace for the full 25 minutes. He’s never holding back to reserve his energy — Vera remains fully focused on the finish.

That’s such a tremendous advantage in a five-round fight. Vera identifies opportunities and has the conditioning to pursue them relentlessly. When he does take advantage, it very clearly hurts. The Ecuadorian has the most finish victories in UFC Bantamweight history, and he’s dropped his last two opponents a total of six times.

The stats are looking pretty undeniable.

As for just how important those last 10 minutes are, let’s take a moment to review Vera’s pair of bouts with World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) legends. Against Jose Aldo, Vera lost the opening round, turned it up in the second, then found his strategy flummoxed when Aldo flipped the script with a crafty takedown in the third. Vera found himself stuck, and the clock ticked away before he could return to action.

Had his bout with Cruz similarly ended after 15 minutes, “The Dominator” would have been named the victor on all three judges’ scorecards. This is not boxing, and thus Vera’s early jab knockdown did not overrule the rest of Cruz’s volume in the first. “Chito” lost the first and second, so a three-round fight would have ended his win streak. Instead, he dropped Cruz again in the fourth then kicked him perfectly right in the mush of his face — that’s a significant difference in potential outcomes to say the least!

There is one man at 135 pounds who happens to be similarly built for 25-minute contests. One other violent striker, a kickboxer, who also somehow never wears any damage. Another man who really excels at gaining momentum by timing opponents’ patterns.

Whenever Marlon Vera and Petr Yan do finally get booked for a main event or title fight, it’s going to be legendary.


For complete UFC San Diego: “Cruz vs. Vera” results and play-by-play, click HERE.

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