UFC bantamweight contender Marlon Vera has his sights set on former champion Petr Yan next, believing a win over the Russian will secure him a title shot.
Vera became the latest addition to a stacked 135-pound championship picture late last month. After avenging a previous defeat to Davey Grant and recording a memorable knockout against Frankie Edgar in 2021, “Chito” entered this year with a main event debut in store.
At UFC Vegas 53, Vera headlined opposite top contender Rob Font. In mightily impressive fashion, the Ecuadorian dominated across the five rounds, coming inches from a finish in practically every round other than a tentative opener.
After 25 minutes of action, Vera left the Octagon with a unanimous decision victory added to his record, as well as a place in the top five secured.
Now, having joined the upper echelons at bantamweight, the 29-year-old believes he is just one more victory away from earning a shot at gold, which is currently held by Aljamain Sterling.
And who’s the opponent he needs to get through to earn the opportunity? Well, according to “Chito,” the man recently defeated by the reigning king.
During an interview with The Schmo, Vera outlined his plans moving forward. Despite previously advocating for a long-awaited matchup with Dominick Cruz, it seems that the Ecuadorian has lost hope of that coming to fruition, instead turning his attention to former undisputed and interim titleholder Yan.
“We’re right there. We’re literally one win away from fighting for that belt. So, I hope we get it done with Yan,” said Vera. “I think that’s the path to the belt. Number one contender, we kick his ass, and we move forward… (Dominick Cruz) don’t want the smoke, well, we move forward. Yan wants it, he gets it. I stop Yan and I get a title shot.”
As well as Vera’s interest in the booking, Yan has also expressed a desire to share the cage with “Chito.” In the immediate aftermath of the Ecuadorian’s victory over Font, the #1-ranked contender took to Twitter to give Vera credit for his performance, hinting that they may meet in the Octagon soon.
How do you think a fight between Marlon Vera and Petr Yan would play out?