Marlon Vera is getting closer to challenging for the UFC’s bantamweight title, but he isn’t certain who the champion will be by the time he gets there.
The UFC’s #5-ranked bantamweight is currently preparing for a main event bout against Dominick Cruz. Although Cruz is actually ranked below Vera at the moment, a win over the former champion would be arguably the biggest victory on his record and put him on a four-fight winning streak.
With Vera and Cruz headlining a UFC Fight Night in August, current bantamweight champion Aljamain Sterling is expected defend his belt against T.J. Dillashaw at UFC 280 this fall. Speaking to Mike Bohn of MMA Junkie, “Chito” was asked who he expects to walk away with the title in that matchup.
“I honestly believe that T.J. is more of a fighter,” Vera said. “He will come and try harder. Sterling’s got good skills you know? He’s a great wrestler, but he gave up in the past. He gave up in the past, he threw the towel in the past, and he’s a guy that if things are not going his way, he breaks. That’s not an opinion, that’s a fact.
“That’s what has happened in the past with him. So, who knows, you know? Who knows, T.J. is at the end of his prime. But I believe he’s still more aggressive, he’s gonna try a little harder than him. So we’ll see what happens in that fight.”
Sterling famously won the bantamweight title after he was illegally kneed by Petr Yan in the fourth round of their fight at UFC 259. “Funk Master” solidified his place as champion when he defeated Yan by split-decision in their rematch at UFC 273, but many fans haven’t abandoned the narrative that Sterling “quit” in the first fight.
Whatever his thoughts on Sterling may be, Vera knows he needs to get through Cruz before he can focus on challenging whoever holds the UFC bantamweight title after UFC 280.
What do you think of Vera’s comments on how Sterling handles adversity in fights?