Bantamweight contenders Rob Font and Marlon Vera headlined Saturday’s UFC Vegas 53 fight card at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas.
No. 5 ranked Font missed weight at Friday’s weigh-in, tipping the scales 2.5 pounds over the allotted bantamweight limit. He relinquished 20 percent of his fight purse and the match was moved to a catchweight bout. Vera entered the bout ranked No. 8 looking to jump into the top 5 of the weight class.
Font found his range early in the opening round. He landed his jab and put together combinations. Late in the frame, Font found success with uppercut. Vera delivered leg kicks and connected with his jab, but Font dictated the pace. Font’s output doubled Vera’s in the first round.
Font opened the second frame with a hard combination. Vera responded with a spinning back kick to the body. Vera connected with a heavy body kick midway through the round while Font continued to press the pace. Late in the round, Vera landed a left hook that knocked Font down. Vera followed Font to the canvas but couldn’t finish the fight before the end of the round.
Font quickly worked to get the fight to the ground in the third frame. Vera defended the attempt and the two separated. They stood in front of each other and exchanged for most of the round. Font continued to employ a high output of strikes. In the closing moments of the round. Vera connected with a jumping knee that badly hurt Font. Font staggered back and fell to the canvas. Vera worked to put Font away but Font survived to the end of the round.
Font tried to continue pushing the pace. He connected with combinations but Vera’s punches and kicks were doing more damage. Vera delivered a head kick that landed cleanly. Font was downed for the third time in the fight. Vera let Font back to his feet but Font again survived the round.
Font came out aggressive in the final frame. He punched in volume and pressured Vera. Vera delivered a heel kick to the head that badly hurt Font in the final seconds. Font’s face was badly swollen and bloodied when the final bell sounded.
UFC Vegas 53 live results: Rob Font vs. Marlon Vera
When the scorecards were tallied, all the judges scored the fight for Vera. The scorecards read 48-47, 49-46, and 49-46.
“It’s been a long road for me, a long journey, but hard work. Hard work,” Vera said following the fight. “When you work had you have the most chances to survive here. When you do everything to win, when you put everything aside, life gives you a good victory.”
With the win, Vera wants to face an opponent inside the top 5 rankings in his next fight. His ultimate goal is to bring UFC gold back to his home country.
“This is amazing. I’m living the dream. I”m going to be world champion. I’m bringing the belt to Ecuador. Believe that,” Vera said. “I’m ready to go. I’ll be back in the gym on Wednesday. There’s no stop. When you stop, you stay behind. I’m a hard worker, and everything I have in my life I earned it. Let’s go.”