Marlon Vera believes he could get a title fight next.
In August, Vera scored the biggest win of his career, knocking out Dominick Cruz in the main event of UFC San Diego. The win was Vera’s fourth in a row and put him on the precipice of a title shot in the stacked 135-pound division — and according to “Chito” it could have been enough to seal the deal.
“Possible — I would love to,” Vera recently said on The MMA Hour. “It could happen after what happens in Abu Dhabi [at UFC 280]. It really comes down to performance. Show me what you can do. I gave you what you want. Winning is great, winning is the most important thing — it’s not the only thing. It’s the most important thing, f*** the rest, but winning like that is what [makes] you go [up], and you just keep going to the other place, just keep climbing ahead. That’s what they want. They want some clean s***. They want to be like, ‘Oh, f***! They love it!’”
Vera is currently ranked No. 5 in the UFC bantamweight rankings but could move up following his win over Cruz. Whether it will be enough to earn a title shot though may depend, as Vera noted, on what happens over the next few months.
At UFC 278, Merab Dvalishvili defeated Jose Aldo. At UFC Vegas 60 later this month, No. 4-ranked Cory Sandhagen faces No. 10-ranked Song Yadong. And at UFC 280, two massive bouts take place when former champ Petr Yan faces rising star Sean O’Malley and bantamweight champion Aljamain Sterling defends his title against former two-time champion T.J. Dillashaw.
With so many possible outcomes, Vera isn’t too stressed about getting a title fight next, but he does think he’s a legitimate contender for it.
“Anybody in the top 5,” Vera said when asked if he didn’t get a title fight next. “I’m a top-5 guy.
“I’m not full of s***. I don’t waste my energy on things I cannot control. The UFC likes me? Yeah, sure. They love me. Dana likes me? 1,000 percent. They want me to be a world champion? Sure. I sell the arena. If that arena would be with 3,000 people, 4,000 people, they’re like, ‘OK, we have a little problem. Maybe just keep winning like that to see what we can do.’ The way I won, how I put the crowd on their feet, that’s all they want. All the smoke, and I have it.”
There’s another possible option for Vera, outside of a top-five opponent. Following his win at UFC San Diego, former bantamweight champion Henry Cejudo ran down Vera, saying he was “not impressed by his performance.” Cejudo recently declared his intention to return to MMA following a brief retirement, and while he’s angling for a featherweight title shot, Vera wouldn’t pass up the opportunity to show Cejudo first-hand the skills he was so unimpressed by.
“He can come back, too — he can get it,” Vera said. “Since he’s a former champ, he never lost the belt, he just retired — maybe because USADA scared him, who knows — if he comes back and skips the line, that wouldn’t bother me. Really. Why would that bother me? I feel like these guys get so crazy.
“We are adults and they really b**** about [stuff] like, ‘Oh, you’re retired.’ F***, these guys are f****** p******. What the f***? This is f****** fighting, boys, this ain’t f****** Disney channel or something like that. You can’t fight for a spot like that. Just f****** call Dana [White] and he will tell you the truth. ‘I’m next? Yes or no?’ There’s no b******* or f****** crying. So if he comes back, he comes back too. He can get it. Anyone can give it to him. I can definitely give it to him. So we’ll see what happens. Keep it simple, keep it real, keep it going.”
Whatever may come next, Vera is in an excellent position. Only 29 and already one of the top bantamweights in the world, “Chito” says that it is simply a matter of time until he hoists UFC gold.
“I think we’re going to a good direction,” Vera said. “I’m going to be a world champion. When? I don’t know. If anybody can see the future, nobody would be stuck in a hole at some point in life. But I’m going to be a world champion. That’s without a doubt. That’s 1,000-percent sure. That’s a fact. When? Who knows? Soon? Maybe. Very soon.”