Marlon “Chito” Vera has full confidence that 2023 will be his year.
Ecuador’s finest has been on quite the roll since a Dec. 2020 dream match up against Jose Aldo. Having won four in a row with two of those wins coming via brutal knockouts, Vera can close the gap on his first career title shot with an upcoming Feb. 18, 2023, win over Cory Sandhagen in the UFC Vegas 69 main event.
While eager for his shot, Vera, 30, is in no rush. The Bantamweight division is currently getting sorted out between the champion, Aljamain Sterling, and possible challengers, Henry Cejudo and Sean O’Malley. Therefore, a Vera title shot would have to come towards the end of 2023 at the earliest.
“I do know for a matter of fact they f—k with me,” Vera told The MMA Hour. “I’m talking about the UFC, they like me. They do want me to hold the belt, so I’m like, why get all crazy? I’ve been handling my career pretty good. Winning, kicking ass, and whatever I ask, they give it to me. So we’re chilling.
“I don’t like to go and ask the UFC for s—t, because think about it: Every day somebody calls and asks and says they want this, they want to negotiate, they want to renegotiate, I’m not like that,” he added. “I like to earn my f—king bread. I just put people out, work my ass off, and keep going. So I went back to [UFC Matchmaker] Sean Shelby and what I knew about this fight, he told me, ‘Really, my only opening right now is the February main event.’ I was like, ‘Sounds pretty sexy.’”
Vera has the entire timeline mapped out. Sterling and Cejudo are still anticipated to collide in the immediate future, and from there, everything points to a big night back inside the world’s most famous arena where he knocked out Frankie Edgar in Nov. 2021.
“I put it like this, ‘Aljo’s’ fighting Cejudo sometime in March,” Vera said. “I beat Sandhagen in February, they make the winner of that versus O’Malley in June or July, I’m fighting for the belt in November, MSG (Madison Square Garden). That’s sexy.”