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After breaking into top five, Rob Font eyes fights with T.J. Dillashaw, Jose Aldo

Rob Font has earned big career opportunities and come up short. Dec. 19, 2020 will go down as the date the New Englander officially got over the hump.

On the main card of UFC Vegas 17, Font picked up the biggest win of his career with a first-round stoppage of Marlon Moraes to break into the top-five at 135.

Previous chances to surge up the ranks against perennial contenders of past and present —John Lineker, Pedro Munhoz and Raphael Assuncao – were unsuccessful. Moraes was Font’s latest shot at the big leagues after earning back-to-back wins in the wake of a setback against Assuncao.

Font has heard those who think he can’t win the big one. But at UFC Vegas 17, there was no stopping one of the founding members of the New England Cartel.

“This was my third opportunity with that same scenario: win two, get a name, big opportunity,” Font told MMA Fighting on What the Heck. “It’s my third time, [and I heard], ‘He definitely can’t do it.’ It’s just like, nah, put your head down and go forward. We’re gonna win this fight. Get in there and get him out of there as soon as possible. I don’t care how you have to do it, just get that finish.

“I mean, you think about it for a second, but I wouldn’t say it bothered me. I wasn’t losing sleep over the comments like that, but I just knew it was another opportunity for me to go out and have fun instead overthinking what I’m trying to do. Hit him more than he hits you and you’ll win the fight.”

With three straight wins and a top-5 ranking under his belt, Font sought former champion T.J. Dillashaw as his next opponent. Dillashaw is eligible to return on Jan. 18 after serving a two-year suspension from the United States Anti-Doping Agency for a positive drug test that was taken prior to his failed bid to capture the flyweight title against Henry Cejudo in January 2019.

Another former champion that seems like a viable option is Jose Aldo, who defeated Marlon Vera via unanimous decision on the same card as Font’s recent victory.

“Beating a guy like Marlon, it comes with big fights and big names,” Font explained. “We’re ready for this. I’m already back in the gym, already flowing and I’m just blessed to have options right now.

“But I think the T.J. fight makes the most sense. He’s the only guy not booked. Cory and Frankie Edgar are booked. Munhoz and Jimmie Rivera are booked, Kenney and Cruz are about to fight. I believe Cody is injured, or going down to 25, so the only person to fight is T.J. or Aldo. Throw me in there [with either of them] and let’s go.”

As Font returned to the hustle and bustle of the Greater Boston area, things normally bothered him on the ride home from Logan Airport seemed like an afterthought. Life was good the moment the plane landed.

“It was an ugly and snowy day, but it was great,” Font said. “Got home, jumped in the shower, got out and just sat there like, ‘Yes, here we go.’ But at the same time, it’s only gonna get harder from here.”

Font’s next move? It’s traveling to Abu Dhabi to corner teammate Calvin Kattar in his upcoming fight against Max Holloway at UFC Fight Island 7 on Jan. 16. The New England Cartel never rests.

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