Marlon Vera has been doing pretty big things in his home country.
The UFC bantamweight fighter has been working with Pepsi for their latest national advertisement campaign in Ecuador. “Chito” can be seen promoting the Pepsi beverage in television commercials, billboards, bus stops ads, and many other promotional vehicles across the country. Working with Pepsi is not only a major step for Vera and his career, but also a big step for MMA, as the sport still remains unknown to many in Latin America.
The 24-year-old Vera feels blessed to be have received the opportunity to work with Pepsi, and still recalls getting the call from the international corporation, which happened prior to his first-round submission win over Brian Kelleher at UFC on FOX 25 last July.
“They called me one day and told me what they wanted to do, they told me that they wanted to put me up on the streets, on stores, so I said okay and we (Vera and his manager Jason House of Iridium Sports Agency) figured out the monetary side of things,” Vera told MMA Fighting. “My manager talked to them and made a contract to make things formal and make sure nothing gets out of line, and that’s how it went down. He (Vera’s manager) dealt with all the legal stuff, and yeah, it’s crazy.
“People send me photos, there are billboards on the main roads of Guayaquil and Quito, and there are photos of me at bus stops. It’s not just something for the people that know me, it’s something on a national level. It’s something for the people who only watch soccer, now they can see me on the streets; and even the lady that goes to the neighborhood store to buy a pound of rice, now she can see photos of me at store. So this is something big for me and I see it as a blessing. I know the UFC likes this and they benefit that these type of companies work with me. That’s why I don’t like to speak more than I should or critique or talk s**t about the UFC because I know that things take time. I know that it’s just a matter of time for the UFC to lay eyes on me, so I’m patient and happy with what I’ve been given.”
Although Vera has pretty big expectations from his professional fighting career, the Team Oyama fighter didn’t expect to be contacted by Pepsi, since the New York-based company is not really a brand that has worked with the UFC in the past.
“Yes, it was a surprise, but at the same time, I already saw that in me and I knew that it was a matter of time,” Vera said. “I mean, it’s not the brand that I thought it would be, since Pepsi doesn't work with the UFC, but I did imagine that Budweiser or the brands that work with the UFC, but Pepsi is just as big if not bigger. Pepsi is a huge brand.”
Vera calls working with Pepsi a dream come true and says it has motivated him to keep working hard.
“For me, it was a big joy because it’s the first major brand to lay eyes on me, so it motivated me and it let me know that I’m on the right path.” Vera explained. “It let me know that I need to continue doing the things that I’ve been doing. The way I’ve been going about things has helped me win fights and has attracted a major brand, so the only changes that I will be making will be to train better and harder.”
The cast member of season one of The Ultimate Fighter: Latin America is currently booked to fight John Lineker at UFC Sao Paulo on Oct. 28. Vera is 10–3–1 in his MMA career, and rides a three-fight win streak with victories over Ning Guangyou, Brad Pickett and most recently Kelleher.