Fighter of the Week: Marlon Vera
Marlon “Chito” Vera
Pro Record: 9-3-1
Association: Team Oyama
Weight Class: Featherweight/Bantamweight
Marlon Vera is an Ecuadorian native who you may remember from TUF: Latin America (2014) fighting for Team Werdum. Vera would be picked for the show after compiling a 6-1-1 record in small organizations in Latin America. Unfortunately, after beating Enrique Briones in the elimination round by KO he was forced to withdraw due to a skin infection. Vera would miss out on his semi-final fight with eventual winner of the Bantamweight tournament and UFC Bantamweight, Alejandro Perez. Current UFC star Yair Rodriguez would win the Featherweight portion of the show. Vera did receive some good news from the show, however. In episode 10, Dana White told Vera that he would have a place on the card at UFC 180, the events finale, a promise fulfilled when Vera faced Marco Beltran. In episode 12, White told Vera that the UFC would pay for Vera’s daughter surgery. Ana Paula Vera, now just 5 years old, suffers from a rare neurological disease called Moebius syndrome and prevents her from having any facial expression. Vera makes no secret about fighting for his two kids and wanting to make their lives better and to bring his family to California, where he currently lives and trains with Team Oyama since early 2016, a move he felt was crucial to continue his evolution in the sport since he was the only professional fighter in his camp in Ecuador.
Vera would lose his first fight in the UFC, at UFC 180, against Beltran by UD. Vera would go on to alternate wins and losses in his next three fights in the UFC. Vera would move up in weight to fight Ning Guangyou at UFC Fight Night 101, a back-and-forth battle that Vera would win by UD almost finishing Guangyou at the end of the fight with a couple of left hands and a leg kick to the head, a move that would prove beneficial to Vera against Pickett. Coming out of the fight relatively unscathed, Vera looked like he would get a quick turnaround at UFC Fight Night 103 against Jimmie Rivera. Rivera was originally scheduled to face Bryan Caraway but Caraway had to pull out citing injury. Initially, Rivera said yes to a fight with Vera only to change his mind due to Vera’s lack of rank and relevance in the division. Vera would continue training, however, even without an opponent or fight scheduled and would get an opportunity to face MMA and UFC veteran Brad Pickett in his final fight.
Didn’t I mention just a couple of weeks ago how fickle the sport of MMA is? How you can be watching a fairly dominant performance in the Octagon and then… well… all it takes is one shot to change the course. UFC Fight Night 107 was supposed to be MMA veteran Brad Pickett’s swan song. After all he was a moderate favorite against Vera, who was a last week replacement for an injured Henry Briones. The fight was changed to a catch-weight 140 lbs. bout after Vera had missed weight. Pickett was fighting in front of his hometown in London, England. Pickett was ahead on all scorecards entering the last round and under 2 minutes away from winning his final fight. Apparently Vera didn’t get the memo as he landed a left kick to drop Pickett and rained down punches from the top to end the fight by TKO at 3:50 of Round 3 to spoil Pickett’s retirement fight in comeback fashion. Vera would earn Performance of the Night for his comeback win and this would give him back-to-back wins for the first time in his UFC career.
Hopefully Vera’s Performance of the Night helps with the costs of his daughter’s surgery. Vera also started a GoFundMe account for her (https://www.gofundme.com/f2uvqzxw), which has been supported by fellow fighters Fabricio Werdum, Carlos Condit, and others. If you’d like to find out more about Ana Paula’s condition I have attached the link for your convenience. I wish him and his family continued success in and out of the Octagon.