‘I’m Prepared To Go To War…. You Will See The Belt Around My Waist!’: UFC’s Marlon ‘Chito’ Vera

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One of the top contenders for the UFC Bantamweight title, Marlon ‘Chito’ Vera, is currently on the back of a 4 fight win streak and is looking to make it a 5th against Cory Sandhagen.

With the Ecuadorian BJJ Expert’s last victory being against 2 times Champion Dominick Cruz and his last defeat coming in the form of legendary Brazilian Jose Aldo, Chito’s career has already seen its fair share of legend and glamour.

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Cory Sandhagen himself is no pushover and with a title shot all but guaranteed, this fight is touted to be a striking showdown for the ages.

Marlon Vera spoke exclusively with News18.com ahead of the fight, here are excerpts from the interview:

What’s your confidence level like heading into this fight against Cory Sandhagen?

I feel great man, I had a good camp. I trained pretty hard and I’m ready to go in. Saturday Night I’m gonna showcase my skills and get another win.

How has training camp been so far?

You know, the challenge is always to keep consistency. To stay on track and keep pushing yourself, you know, and then the positive thing about all of this is knowing that I did everything in my hands to win this fight.

Ecuador seems like it could have a bright future in the UFC, how connected are you to Ecuador and how proud are you of being the flagbearer for UFC in Ecuador? 

I have a great connection with my people you know, every time I go there people show a lot of love to me and they’re always supporting my career and when I’m fighting. And, to me, it’s very important to represent my country in the best way possible. And you know, to show that with hard work and persistence, you can get everything in life. 

An interesting stat, you are currently en route to overtake Anthony ‘rumble’ Johnson for most knockdowns without being knocked down yourself, will you be looking to knockdown Cory?

Just one more to beat his record? I might just do that! That’s a really cool stat.

You are often referred to as one of the coolest cats in the game, your calculated submissions are just one of the many tricks up your sleeve. What kind of strategy are you looking to use against Cory?

We do have a game plan, me and my coach have like a strategy. And, you know, a thought process and we have a bunch of ideas about what can happen, depending on the opponent in front. At the end of the day, you just get in there and you fight, you know, that’s what we train for, with room for a fight. And that’s what I’m gonna do on Saturday, I’m gonna, set up in front of him, and see if he figures it out.

You currently are on a 4-match win streak, surely a win should get you a title shot?

I think with a good win, with a good performance on the night, I feel that’s what’s coming. So I’m ready to just get in there and give my 100% And I’m pretty sure that the gold is coming to me one day. 

So Ecuador and all your fans can get to see you as a champion soon?

They will see me. They will see me with that belt on my waist one day.

Having been in the UFC for close to 9 years, what have been some of the most memorable moments in your career so far?

I’ve had great moments in my career. I feel like A bunch of those fights overseas like fighting in London was pretty cool, going around the world fighting in South America was great. I just feel like overall a lot of great things happened in my career. You know, and I’m just super stoked to keep doing it and just getting to be the best version of myself, keep getting better with each fight, and I feel like there are many great things coming ahead of me too. 

Could you tell us a bit more about your nickname ‘Chito’?

Really that’s just because my family called me like that since I was a little kid. So there’s not really like, a meaning behind it. It was hard for me to pronounce my name when I was a kid so this was sort of a cheat code because I couldn’t pronounce my name.

What initially inspired you to become an MMA Fighter?

I like to fight, I fought a lot in the streets and, you know, I wasn’t very good, but I just keep coming and keep trying and I just like to fight. I was trying to get in a fistfight pretty much every week and, you know, once I started watching UFC, I got to see GSP (Georges St. Pierre). I told myself, when I grow up, I want to be like that and, you know, I’m doing a pretty good job. 

Any part of your career that you felt you could redo? Maybe Vera vs Aldo Part 2?

You can’t regret your past man. I feel like I learned a lot from a loss like that. There are a lot of things I would like to do right. But I feel like, you know if we have the chance to do that you will never have life experience. So I  do learn from mistakes, from my past and now they make me the man I am. So they did help a lot.

Top 5 MMA fighters of all time?

I got Anderson Silva, GSP (Georges St. Pierre), Demetrious Johnson, Jon Jones, and I will say my number five is probably Cain Velasquez, you know, based on the fact of maintaining the belt and doing a lot of work, I would trade Cain Velasquez for BJ Penn. I think BJ held the belt a little longer. So yeah, I will put Cain Velasquez on my number 6. I feel those guys, kept the belt, and maintained the belt for a long time. And, you know, I think people forget these days, like, some guy defends his title about two times, and they call them a GOAT, you know, just pawns with no knowledge, right? But you gotta go and see. The fact that people have defended the belt for a long time. This guy’s different level, longer title reigns than people even have actually had UFC fights. So, you know, in order to beat that, you gotta beat the actual record, not just be cooler and have a couple more IG followers.

If not the MMA, what do you see yourself doing?

I probably will be a gangster. Who knows? 

Any message for Cory Sandhagen if he’s watching this right now?

Umm not really, I got nothing to say to the guy, you know, that’s it for me. The only thing I know is I’m prepared to go to war. If I have to go deep in order to get this win, I will, you know.

Message for your fans, especially in India?

I love all of the people that support me and I’m very grateful to everybody that put energy into me and wants me to win, I really appreciate that. Thank you so much. by the way, I love Indian food. Some of my buddies in LA have a great restaurant called ‘Badmaash.’ So, you know, I’m part Indian. I’m 30 per cent Indian. 

Watch the LIVE coverage of UFC Fight Night – Vera vs Sandhagen on Sony Sports Ten 2 (English), Sony Sports Ten 3 (Hindi) & Sony Sports Ten 4 (Tamil & Telugu) channels at 5:30 am IST on 26th March 2023

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