For UFC bantamweight Marlon Vera, a call from ex-champ Dominick Cruz after UFC Vegas 29 was strictly a bargain.
Cruz called the winner of Vera’s “Fight of the Night” on Saturday in Las Vegas and was again put on the spot by a fighter hoping to increase his stock. Vera said it was just a request, not a request.
âHe was too close to me and he leads the standings,â he said on ESPN’s post-fight show for UFC Vegas 29, which took place at UFC APEX. âSo it’s a fight that I think is a fun fight, but I’m not desperate, or dying to fight. I will fight anyone, and I have proven it by taking this fight. Because, let’s face it, after fighting up close with Jose Aldo, it’s a huge step back, and it’s a lot of pressure on me.
âHe entered the standings with a victory. I’m not getting much, but I’m preparing really well, and whoever in front of me I’m going to kick him out, and that’s what we came over to do tonight.
Cruz in March rebounded from a two-fight slippage that saw him cede the UFC bantamweight title to Cody Garbrandt and then fail to get it back in a fight with former champion Henry Cejudo. Between these fights, Cruz was grappling with serious injuries – a persistent career theme – which delayed his return. But he pointed to division star Casey Kenney at UFC 259 to push back calls for retirement.
Since then, Cruz has taken 9th place in the UFC rankings – and has presented plenty of unofficial offers. Vera # 15, as he indicated on the show, was not one of them.
âThere is a long list of people calling me,â said Cruz. âWe are all trying to fight to move up the rankings, to move up the ranks. I have to respect someone who is trying to fight in the standings. He wants to fight me. I also want to fight to climb the ranks.
Still, Vera was a big winner on Saturday night, leaving the audience to cheer as he battled with Grant in a bloody three-round bout. Sometimes it seemed like Grant’s heavy hands could turn the tide. But Vera stayed strong and avenged a 2016 loss with a unanimous decision.
Afterwards, Vera shared a few (especially kind) words with Cruz, who was still in the cupboard after a night of work at APEX.
It may be the closest that the two bantamweight come together, but time will tell.