Off the back of an impressive performance against former UFC lightweight champion, Frankie Edgar at UFC 268 last weekend, the newly #11 ranked bantamweight contender, Marlon Vera has expressed an interest in improving on his winning streak against either recent interim title challenger, Cory Sandhagen — or the surging, Merab Dvalishvili.
Featuring on the main card of UFC 268 at Madison Square Garden prior to a championship doubleheader, Vera was likely cruising to a unanimous decision victory over the Toms River native — before springing with an impressive third round front kick knockout over the veteran former gold holder.
The victory came as the Ruca trainee’s second consecutive victory — following a prior unanimous judging triumph against two-time opponent, Davey Grant at UFC Vegas 29 in June earning Fight of the Night honors.
The Ecuadorian holds a prior first round knockout victory over the highly-touted, Sean O’Malley in a high-profile UFC 262 co-headliner in August of last year — before seeing his bantamweight winning run halted by former featherweight gold holder, Jose Aldo in December at UFC Vegas 17.
Reflecting on his victory over Edgar at UFC 268 during a recent interview with Ariel Helwani on The MMA Hour — Vera called for a pairing with either the aforenoted, Sandhagen or Dvalishvili next time out as he attempts to crack the bantamweight top-10.
“Literally, how the situation is, there’s only two guys ahead or that are free, which are Merab [Dvalishvili] and [Cory] Sandhagen,‘ Vera said. “I can fight any of those two tomorrow.“
Whilst Dvalishvili had found suitors hard to come by during his Octagon run due to his sheer dominance and wrestling ability, the Chone native, Vera appears to welcome the challenge the Georgia native brings.
“He’s a wrestler,” Vera said when speaking of Dvalishvili. “I would be more scared if he was an Anthony Johnson type of f*cking guy. Anthony Johnson touch you, you don’t grow a beard. He’s a bad motherf*cker but I understand that. We all are.“
In Sandhagen’s most recent outing, he co-headlined UFC 267 two weeks ago in Abu Dhabi, UAE — dropping a unanimous decision loss to Petr Yan in an interim title fight — while Dvalishvili rallied to stop Marlon Moraes at UFC 266 — with a second round ground strikes knockout which earned him a Performance of the Night bonus.
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