Seasoned bantamweight Marlon “Chito” Vera handed fast-rising “Sugar” Sean O’Malley his first career loss in the UFC 252 co-main event on Saturday at the UFC APEX in Las Vegas.
O’Malley entered the bout as the heavy betting favorite and a lot of hype behind his name. Vera was looking to end O’Malley’s unbeaten streak and steal some of the luster surrounding O’Malley. Vera succeed in his goals and did it inside of the first round.
O’Malley circled on the outside, switching stances, and employing a a kick-heavy offense. Vera worked to get on the inside of O’Malley’s reach and connected with leg kicks in the early going. Midway through the opening round, O’Malley stepped forward and rolled his left foot. After that moment, his mobility was visibly compromised.
O’Malley backed up to the cage and tried to circle. During an exchange, O’Malley stepped back and fell to the canvas as he put all of his weight on the injured leg. Vera followed O’Malley to the ground and connected with a hard left hand. An elbow followed and then another. The referee had seen enough and stepped in. The official time of the stoppage was 4:40 of the first round.
“As I always say, hype, big name, fame, none of those things count unless you put in the hard work and dedication,” said Vera after the upset win.
“Everybody has an opinion, but guess what? It doesn’t matter,” said Vera. “I’m a tough guy. I train hard and show up on time. I have great people in my corner.”
Vera believes O’Malley’s injured could have came when he checked on of his kicks. He also acknowledged that O’Malley could have injured himself landing a kick. Either way, Vera slowed down the O’Malley hype train. He attributed that win to his work ethic and determination.
“I have three kids that I have to feed. I’ve got a house to pay, so I’m a motivated man. I wake up every morning with mission, and here we are,” he said. “He doesn’t have the dog that I have inside. I say that in interviews and I’ll repeat it again. The dog I have inside is bigger than all of these guys.”