Marlon Vera thinks his next opponent will have trouble keeping up with him.
The Ecuadorian fighter competes Saturday night on the main card of UFC Argentina, which takes place at Parque Roca Arena in the capital of the largest Spanish-speaking nation: Buenos Aires, Argentina. “Chito” will be taking on hometown darling Guido Cannetti. Vera, 25, is 13 years younger than the Argentine.
With youth on his side, plus footage of his opponent’s previous performances, Vera can’t see Cannetti lasting all three rounds with him inside the Octagon.
“I really think he’s going to start strong, he’s going to want to hit hard, but I have a better fight and I don’t think he’s going to be able to keep up with my rhythm,” Vera told MMA Fighting. “In the fight with Diego (Rivas), he was already breathing through his mouth in the first round and he was never able to hurt Diego.
“I trained with Diego for more than a year, so I know him, and he told me a few things about his fight (with Cannetti). I’m not too focused on those things because every fight is different, but all I know is that Cannetti doesn’t have the energy to last three rounds with me.
“He’s going to get tired. And to be honest, the only way he’s beating me is if he catches me, and I don’t discard that because he’s a strong fighter, but I’ve taken precautions and I’m sure that I’m ready to avoid that.”
Both Vera and Cannetti were on the same team for the inaugural season of The Ultimate Fighter: Latin America. They also were part of a UFC developmental program where Latin American fighters were brought to JacksonWink so they could evolve their skills prior to The Ultimate Fighter. The two bantamweights know each other quite well.
“We were obviously close, but nothing from another world, we weren’t best friends or anything like that,” Vera said. “I had more closure with Diego Rivas and a few other guys, so I think that’s what made him feel offended, but at the end of the day, nothing matters. Once that cage closes, a fight is a fight, it doesn’t matter who’s mad or hurt.
“And what do I think of him? Well, he starts strong but then he tires and he’s a little past in age, he’s not close to my age, but I don’t underestimate anyone, I take every fight seriously. Everyone in the UFC can fight, and anything can happen, so I’m not sleeping on him. And my objective is always the same: It’s hurt my opponent, finish him, and rip out his soul, leave him with nothing.”
Although Vera has trained many rounds with Cannetti in the past, he’s doesn’t want to put too much stock in what he already knows about the Argentine, even despite thinking that Cannetti hasn’t changed much.
“That was four years ago, so I can’t go based on that,” Vera explained. “What I do know is that he hasn’t changed a whole lot. He always comes in with strong kicks, looping punches, his wrestling is not marvelous, and his jiu-jitsu is his weakness. So I have my game prepared and I’m going to put it on display on Saturday.”
UFC Argentina will mark the second time the UFC visits a Spanish speaking country in South America. Earlier this year, the US-based promotion went to Chile in a historic event for MMA in Latin American. Vera is stoked to be fighting in front of a hispanic audience.
“It feels awesome to be able to have the opportunity to fight in front of the Latino fans,” Vera said. “Last event in Chile, I wasn’t able to fight due to the fracture I suffered in my last fight against (Douglas) Silva de Andrade, so I chose to take my time, heal up, and work on my technique and I came back strong.
“They gave me a short-notice fight against Wuliji Buren and I knocked him out. So I’m OK, I’m motivated, I have plans, and taking everything a step at a time starting with winning this fight (at UFC Argentina). Big things are coming, I’ve been working really hard, prepared well, and I think in this fight I will show an improved version of myself.”