MMA fighting

Marlon Vera: Title shot justified after Dominick Cruz arrives, but Henry Cejudo can ‘get it’

Marlon Vera thinks he could get a title fight next.

In August, Vera picked up the biggest victory of his career when he knocked 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’, that might have been enough to seal the deal.

“Possible – I would love to,” Vera recently said on MMA hour. “It could happen after what happened 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 good, winning is the most important thing – it’s not the only thing. That’s the most important thing, fuck the rest, but win like this what’s this [makes] you go [up], and you just keep going to the other place, just keep climbing ahead. That’s what they want. They want clean shit. They wanna be like, ‘Oh fuck! They love it!'”

Vera is currently ranked No. 5 in the UFC bantamweight rankings but could move up after her win over Cruz. Whether that’s enough to earn a title shot 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 takes on No. 10-ranked Song Yadong. And at UFC 280, two massive fights take place when former champion Petr Yan takes on rising star Sean O’Malley and bantamweight champion Aljamain Sterling defends his title against former two-time champion TJ Dillashaw.

With so many possible outcomes, Vera isn’t too stressed about getting an upcoming title fight, but he thinks he’s a legitimate candidate for it.

“Anyone in the top 5,” Vera said when asked if he wouldn’t get a title fight next. “I’m a top 5 guy.

“I’m not full of shit. I don’t waste my energy on things I can’t control. Does the UFC like me? Yes of course. They love me. Dana loves me? 1,000 percent. They want me to be world champion? Sure. I’m selling the arena. If that arena was with 3,000 people, 4,000 people, they’re like, ‘OK, we have a little problem. Maybe keep winning like this to see what we can do. How I won, how I got the crowd on their feet, that’s all they want. All smoke, and I have it.

There is another possible option for Vera, apart from one of the first five opponents. Following his win at UFC San Diego, former bantamweight champion Henry Cejudo knocked Vera down, saying he was “not impressed with his performance.” Cejudo recently declared his intention to return to MMA after a brief retirement, and as he pursues a featherweight title, Vera wouldn’t pass up the opportunity to show Cejudo the skills that left him so unimpressed.

“He can come back too – he can get it,” Vera said. “Since he’s a former champion, he never lost the belt, he just retired – maybe because USADA scared him off, who knows – if he comes back and jumps the line, I wouldn’t mind. Really. Why would I mind? I feel like these guys are going so crazy.

“We’re adults and they really don’t care [stuff] like, ‘Oh, you’re retired.’ F***, these guys are f****** p******. What is that ? It’s a fucking fight, guys, it’s not a fucking Disney channel or anything. You can’t fight for a place like that. Just fucking call Dana [White] and he will tell you the truth. ‘I’m next? Yes or no?’ There’s no f******* or fucking 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 happens next, Vera is in a great position. At just 29 and already one of the best bantamweights in the world, ‘Chito’ says it’s only a matter of time before he strikes UFC gold.

“I think we’re going in the right direction,” Vera said. “I’m going to be world champion. When? I do not know. If anyone could see the future, no one would be stuck in a hole at some point in their life. But I’m going to be world champion. It is without a doubt. It’s 1000% sure. That’s a fact. When? Who knows? Soon? Maybe. Very soon.”