Marlon Vera reflects on loss, depression and the difficult road to his first UFC main show: “I thought that my career was over.”


Marlon Vera has come a long way.

The veteran bantamweight is set to headline his first UFC main event on April 30 when he meets Rob Font in a high-stakes battle of contenders. It’s a moment eight years in the making for “Chito,” whose octagon debut came in 2014 after an appearance on The Ultimate Fighter: Latin America and who struggled to a 4-4 record through his first eight UFC bouts before turning his career around.

For Vera, the nadir of those struggles came in 2018 after consecutive losses to John Lineker and Douglas Silva de Andrade — and at that point, “Chito” knew he’d reached a crossroads that could define his future.

“F ***, these back-to-back defeats were quite hard mentality,” Vera said on The MMA Hour . I was depressed and thought that my career was over. I was like, ‘F***, I can’t beat these guys.’ And I get it — back then, Lineker was No. 4, the guy was a big deal. Let’s face it, I wasn’t the kind of person that would say, “Oh, he didn’t even touch me,” but in fact, he did not do anything to me. In the third round, I stopped him from walking down, winning the round. The fight that followed was [against de Andrade] I felt a bit beat up and I thought, “F ***, it looks like I cannot win .’


“And back then I wasn’t the person that I am today. It’s almost like I was reading a little bit of comments, like, ‘Oh f***, you’re done. You suck.’ It’s like, ‘F***, I do suck.'”

Vera, 29, hadn’t lost two consecutive fights in his career prior to that slump, and the self-doubt that came with his downward fortunes admittedly played tricks on his mind.

Vera reflected back on the time during his career and said that it was necessary to have honest conversations with himself in order to see his mistakes and accept responsibility for them.

” Mentally, I was not that sharp,” Vera said. Vera said, “I was strong, I was able take it, rebuild, and then I had a great win streak. But that’s the result of talking to myself and saying, “Hey, this is what you have to do. You’ve got to take care of yourself. You have to do what’s right.’ Because some things — if you’re there [in that place mentally], it’s because either you’re doing wrong or somebody is not giving you enough, and both are your fault, because you’ve got to detect those things early and fix them. At the end of it all, I won’t name anyone or point fingers because it is me .”


Vera was helped by two people who played a key role in getting him through the darkness to finally find success in UFC.

The first was an attempt to get Vera involved with Jason Parillo who is still Vera’s coach.

“He is very skilled at making sure that [mental aspect] works well, and that’s what I feel helped me to improve my game,” Vera stated. He took me to the next stage — you’ll soon see. You guys may have seen a bit of Frankie [Edgar],, but I still have two rounds to go .

While it is not unusual for an old coach to assist an athlete in breaking through the glass ceiling and helping them reach new heights, Vera was assisted by T.J. Dillashaw.

“When I lost back-to-back, he basically opened the doors of his gym for me to get a different look and just kind of redo myself,” Vera said of Dillashaw.

“So I respect that and I’m grateful for that.”

Dillashaw, the name Vera doesn’t want to face as he climbs up the UFC’s bantamweight ladder, is why

Although Vera may not have a choice if he continues his winning ways.

“Chito” has won eight of his past 10 fights since his career-changing slump, a run highlighted by big finishes of Frankie Edgar and Sean O’Malley. Vera is currently MMA Fighting’s No. 12 ranked bantamweight in the world, and a win over the No. 6 ranked Font would put the Ecuadorian just inches away from title contention. Dillashaw is in that same mix, so a matchup with title implications between the two may not be far off.

For now Vera is focusing on the future.

“How MMA works, anything can happen. “The No. 1 contender can break a finger, I don’t know, [they] can get COVID,” Vera said.

“But, I believe I won this [Font] battle and I’m in the lead. It’s possible for anything to happen. I’ve got the next shot or they give me another big one. To be champion, you’ve just got to fight, dude. Eventually you want to fight, I don’t know, No. 2 or No. 1 to see who fights for the belt. Man, cool — but first things first, I go in there, kick this guy’s ass, and we’ll see what’s next. I don’t like to look ahead of nobody.”