Marlon Vera competing at UFC 239

Marlon Vera is not going out of his way to pursue a re-booking of his fight with Sean O’Malley that never materialized, but if the UFC sends the bout agreement his way, he will sign on the dotted line a second time.

Up until two weeks before UFC 239, Vera expected to fight the up-and-coming bantamweight prospect. That was before trace amounts of Ostarine were found in one of O’Malley’s recent U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) tests, causing the Nevada State Athletic Commission to remove the 24-year-old from the card, a decision made despite clearance from USADA.

After some scrambling by the UFC, “Chito” got a new opponent and remained on the card. He picked up his eighth win in the Octagon and his sixth by stoppage.

Sean O’Malley chimes in

While Vera competed in his preliminary bout, his originally scheduled opponent shared his thoughts on the fight. O’Malley took to Twitter to throw jabs at Vera, stating he “[w]ould have won already” and that watching the fight “pisses [him] off,” indicating that he felt Vera’s opponent, UFC newcomer Nohelin Hernandez, wasn’t taking advantage of openings presented by Vera.

O’Malley went as far as to align a date that the two fighters could meet again. He challenged “Chito” to meet him at UFC 241, which is headlined by Daniel Cormier’s and Stipe Miocic’s rematch for the heavyweight title.

Despite the push from O’Malley, Vera told Mike Heck of The Body Lock that he’s not going to “chase” him for a rescheduling.

“I really don’t give a f**k about anybody,” Vera told The Body Lock. “I don’t chase no fights, but coming from a guy like that, he hasn’t finished nobody. He is a little delusional. He’s a kid, and he will learn. Maybe with me, maybe with somebody else, but I just don’t buy that hype. I don’t have to respond to him. Like just by [not] responding to him, I’m already winning because who is the guy? He’s got two fights in the UFC, so… I want to chase that?”

Vera feels that although O’Malley does have a significant fanbase, a fight with the young bantamweight doesn’t get him any closer to his goal of a UFC title.

“Is this guy really a big thing in the division? No. Is the guy popular? Yeah, he’s popular,” Vera said. “He’s a stoner kid that posts about bud and throws some flashy kicks. Yeah, people like that; media like that. But I’m a fighter. I’m not a journalist. I’m not a matchmaker, so whoever they want to throw in front of me, I’ll fight them.”

Prior to Vera’s bout at UFC 239, O’Malley met with Vera to apologize about getting pulled from the bout. The two spoke briefly inside the UFC Performance Institute in Las Vegas. Filmmaker Will Harris captured the cordial interaction in the third episode of “Anatomy of UFC 239.

“When I saw him on the UFC PI, he don’t have the same attitude he has with me on Twitter, on social media,” Vera said. “So, all of that’s fake.”

The impact of Sean O’Malley’s suspension

O’Malley’s second drug infraction since signing with the UFC produced a domino effect for multiple parties. For one, Vera’s position on the card was put in jeopardy.

The UFC searched for someone to fill in. The promotion’s reported first choice was King of the Cage bantamweight prospect Drako Rodriguez.

Rodriguez wanted to accept the fight, but he still had four fights left on his contract, so KOTC made the decision to block him from signing with the UFC.

This forced the UFC to continue its pursuit of a new opponent. During this time, Vera was forced to sit idly while the situation played out.

“It was pretty hard,” Vera said. “At some point, I was kind of over it.”

“Chito” even admits that a week before UFC 239, he assumed that he would be off the card. Not having to worry about making the bantamweight limit of 136 pounds, he eased back on his strict diet and training regiment.

“On the Saturday before the fight, I was drinking a couple beers on the beach,” Vera said. “I was hanging out with my kids. I was like, I won’t put pressure on the stuff I can’t control.”

Eventually, Vera got the call he had been waiting for just days before the event.

“By the time they called me I was like, yeah, well I don’t want to fight but you know what? F**k it, let’s go,” Vera said. “I was a little tired mentally because of all of the stuff going on, but at the end, I was like, ‘This is a f**king fight.’ There’s not too much stuff to do. I was prepared. I had like a three, four-month camp for [the fight], and then I was just like, ‘You know what? I’m fine. Let’s do it.'”

Marlon Vera vs. Nohelin Hernandez

When Vera finally learned his opponent, he recognized the name. Both he and Hernandez share the same management team.

Still, Vera hadn’t seen much of him as a fighter, and, knowing that Hernandez was making his UFC debut, “Chito” knew he had to be cautious.

“It’s hard to fight guys like that because they got nothing to lose,” Vera said. “Basically they’re making a favor [to the UFC], so I was like, ‘F**k, if you beat me, [you] will take my spot, and there was no f**king way that would happen.'”

Vera looked his opponent up online and watched numerous videos of him competing in both boxing and MMA. Hernandez’s boxing background led Vera to believe his opponent’s hands would provide the biggest problem for him.

“I was expecting probably more power from him,” Vera said. “Then when he kicked me, I was like, ‘Okay, the kicks seem a little heavier than the punches.'”

After a strong effort from the newcomer, “Chito” was able to use his experience in the cage to find an opening.

“When I hit him with the body shot, I [saw] him break and then that was like, that’s it,” Vera said.

Vera continued his pursuit, landing a knee as Hernandez crumpled to the ground. From there, he latched onto Hernandez’s back, took the neck and finished the fight by second-round submission.

Following their fight, Vera saw Hernandez in the hotel and gave him thanks as well as encouragement.

“I told him, ‘Thank you for the good fight and for taking the fight. Thanks to you, I’m getting paid now,'” Vera said. “I just told him, ‘Dude, I was a little tougher tonight and I [got] it done, but good luck in the future.'”


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