Marlon Vera will soon achieve one of his dreams, and it’s not getting a hold of a UFC world title, at least not yet.
The Ecuadorian fighter will have his 7-year-old daughter Ana Paula undergo surgery this Friday in Beverly Hills, Calif. Ana Paula suffers from Moebius syndrome, a rare neurological condition that affects the muscles that control facial expression. Vera’s long-time dream is to be able to see his daughter smile. And soon enough, “Chito” will be able to do just that.
“I’m super happy, bro, about my personal life, making things happen. Everything is good, everything is in order,” Vera told MMA Fighting.
Since joining the UFC in 2014, Vera has made it a mission to not only win fights for his young, promising career, but to also raise the money needed for his daughter’s costly surgery.
It’s been a long road for the 25-year-old bantamweight, but also one he hasn’t had to walk alone. Two years ago, Vera started a GoFundMe account in hopes to help pay for Ana Paula’s surgery. The whole procedure will cost approximately $43,500 and close to half of it was donated by the MMA community.
“It’s something great, it’s something that I appreciate and that I’m never going to forget,” Vera said regarding the $19,000 donated to the GoFundMe account. “A few years ago I started the GoFundMe, and little by little, funds were raised.
“My friends, training partners, UFC fighters, my family, and the fans are responsible for this. One also needs to know that not everything is life is receiving but also giving; people always get together for a good cause and little by little things workout.
“It’s truly incredible, and it’s something that has brought me a lot of satisfaction. It has helped me become a better person, it’s helped me see the good side of the world.”
Ana Paula’s surgery has been in the works for a couple of months now. The surgery was scheduled until after Ana Paula finished with first grade, so she has time to recover during her summer break.
“The surgery lasts about 12 hours and the recovery is just simply rest and let the scars heal, it’s not a very rough recovery,” Vera explained. “They told me that after a week she should be able to be back to her normal life.”
Ana Paula is facing the process with a lot of courage, and she’s been very calm all through out.
Vera is excited to finally be able to achieve one of his many dreams, and him and his family can’t wait to see Ana Paula smile.
“For me, I imagine it’s going to be the best thing that’s ever happened in my life,” Vera said. “It’s a gigantic achievement and I can’t wait till it happens. It was a goal of mine and a goal of my wife’s, my son’s too, who wants to see his sister smile, so it was a family goal. It’s something you achieve with infinite effort and always having faith, never giving up.”
As for the TUF: Latin America 1 alumnus, Vera hopes to return to the cage sooner rather than later. Vera said that he had a fight lined up for the end of July at UFC on FOX 30 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, but it unfortunately fell through.
“I’ll fight with anyone that’s ready. I’ve mentined before Renan Barao, I think that’s a good fight, and he’s on his way out. I’m also down to fight any of the other old guys to retire them or anyone that’s available really.”