Avenging a previous loss to Davey Grant was more meaningful to Marlon Vera than most people might realize.
After falling to Grant via unanimous decision at UFC Fight Night 84 in February 2016, Vera outpointed Grant in their rematch at UFC on ESPN 25, a bout that earned “Fight of the Night” honors.
“It feels amazing. He got me back in the day when I was younger and green in the game. You aren’t beating me twice,” Vera said. “That’s not going to happen. When they called me for this fight, I was honestly expecting a bigger fight. Everybody was like, ‘Easy fight.’ There are no easy fights in the Octagon. That got proven today. I also proved my level, gas tank and technique. I’m not going to just give up.
“The guy beat me when I was young and a newcomer. He broke my heart, because that was the fight that made me leave to the U.S. I told myself I couldn’t be in Ecuador anymore. Now we’re here after five years. It’s pretty damn good.”
At the time, the loss to Grant was Vera’s second in three UFC appearances. Today, he’s far more established in the bantamweight division, with victories in seven of his last nine outings within the Las Vegas-based promotion. “Chito” is looking for a high-profile opponent next, and after a recent competitive loss to Jose Aldo, he believes another matchup with a former champion would be appropriate.
“I think Dominick Cruz makes sense because we’re both coming off wins,” Vera said. “I’ve been in the top 15 for a while now. I’ve fought the best in the division. My last fight was against Jose Aldo. He had to hold me down in order to win that fight. I feel I won the fight, but he won on points. But there are no excuses. If you hold me down, it’s on me to escape. I take it on the chin like a man.”
Still just 28 years old, Vera harbors big dreams, and he’s willing to sacrifice to make his goals become a reality. It’s a philosophy not so different from the one he adopted after losing to Grant some five years ago.
“I’m not messing around, I’m investing in my career,” Vera said. “I will do whatever it costs to become a world champion. I want to get the belt for Ecuador.”