Two longtime UFC veterans wage war for the main event on Saturday night. For the Rob Font vs Marlon Vera fight night, only one can stay relevant in a crowded bantamweight division. Both fighters are coming off bouts against former champions, although Font (19-5-0) is hungry to bounce back after losing to Jose Aldo while Vera (20-7-1) looks to keep his momentum going after knocking out Frankie Edgar.
Font a Contender Despite Setbacks
Last December, Rob Font took the biggest loss of his career when he dropped a decision to former featherweight champion Aldo. Font won the first few rounds but was neutralized later in the fight and lost. The defeat stopped his four-fight winning streak dead in its tracks and was yet another setback for the 34-year-old.
“I’ll be back,” Font said in the post-fight interview. “I know for a fact this will make me better, and I just went five rounds with one of the legends in the sport, and I’m going to get better off of this fight, for sure.”
This is not the first time that Font has had to go back to the drawing board. After winning his first two UFC fights, he lost a decision to John Lineker. He would win two more before getting submitted by Pedro Munhoz. All in all, Font has lost four times inside the octagon, but he has still climbed the rankings.
Losing isn’t the end of the world for most UFC fighters. In fact, two current UFC champions (Charles Oliveira and Glover Teixeira) had to endure numerous losses before capturing UFC gold. You cannot write anyone off in this sport, especially not someone like Font who continues to make improvements to his game.
The online sportsbook is still also high on Font and has placed the veteran as a favorite per the UFC Fight Night odds. This will be the fourth time in five fights that Font will be the betting favorite. In his UFC career, Font has won six of the eight fights in which he was lined as one.
Vera Bred in the UFC
Few UFC fighters can say they have grown as much as Marlon Vera. The product of The Ultimate Fighter: Latin America, Vera started his UFC career with two losses in his first three fights. He built some momentum by winning his next three fights before losing consecutive bouts, which took a mental toll on the Ecuadorian.
“Those back-to-back losses were pretty hard mentally,” Vera said on The MMA Hour. “I was a little depressed, and I thought my career was done. I was like, ‘I can’t beat these guys.’ And I get it — back then, Lineker was No. 4, the guy was a big deal. And let’s be honest, I’m not the type of idiot that says, like, ‘Oh, he didn’t even touch me,’ but he really didn’t do much to me, and in the third round I ended it walking him down and winning the third round. But the fight after that [against Douglas Silva de Andrade], I got a little beat up, so I was like, ‘Looks like I can’t win.’”
Thankfully, Vera did not listen to this voice in his head as he would turn a corner and rattle off five consecutive victories – all by a finish. In fact, Vera has won eight of his last 10 bouts. His only losses came against Aldo and Song Yadong, who is a top-five fighter in the division.
Vera has beaten a former champion in Edgar, a hyped prospect in Sean O’Malley, and also avenged an earlier loss against Davey Grant. Still, at 29 years old, Vera already has the most stoppage wins in the division (nine) and has six performance bonuses, with three coming in the last two years.
Though Vera has yet to beat a top-five fighter, you can find him as a lively underdog by most UFC Fight Night previews. If he keeps his upward trajectory, he can go from being a lightly regarded TUF veteran to a future title contender – maybe, even a champion.Follow us on Twitter