This past Saturday, “Chito” took on former two-time UFC bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz in the headlining bout of UFC San Diego at Pechanga Arena in San Diego, California. Cruz looked sharp for as long as the action continued until Vera capitalized on his tendency to lower his head to the right and drop his guard with a brutal head kick that sent him crashing down to the canvas. It marked Cruz’s first defeat in non-title competition.
While some athletes do not particularly make much of their walkouts, others use it as an opportunity to provide extra entertainment for the fans. Vera made his walkout to the iconic reggae record “Spanish Town Rockin’” by Chronixx, receiving an overwhelmingly positive reaction from the attendees who joined in their own way.
During the UFC on ESPN 41 post-fight press conference, Vera was asked if he was aware of the smell of cannabis that popped up around the cage when his music hit.
“C’mon, oh f**k yeah. I was trying to get a hit of that,” Vera answered. “I was like, ‘wow! I love it.’ That’s one of my favorite songs. Honestly, I never know how the song is going to hit. This was the best entrance I had in my life. It was this song, just everything around the “Spanish Town Rockin”, I was just like, ‘holy s**t. This is a f**king nice walkout.”
“Oh, they know what’s up,” Vera closed out by suggesting that it was an indication for the fans to start lighting up.
Vera Believes Cruz’s Signature Approach Is ‘Very Low Level’
Cruz is widely regarded as one of the major innovators of the sport due to his unorthodox fighting style. He’s a maestro of lateral movement, appearing to be in perpetual motion to not present a standing target for his opponents. However, Vera was able to use Cruz’s style against him.
“Honestly, me and my team, we really think the way he fights is kind of very low level,” Vera said. “There’s no base, there’s no good stance, all that movement, side to side. We told each other, ‘We have to kick this guy’s ass.’ But by saying that, you put a lot of pressure on yourself.
“I just believe that style is not the best style for MMA. Maybe for boxing, it can work better. But for MMA, you’ve got way too many weapons going. What he does well, he mixes takedowns with that movement. That’s when he’s successful. But I was like, it’s going to be hard for him to take me down, so we were pretty confident, but we knew this fight wasn’t easy.”
What’s next for Vera?
Currently on a four-fight win streak, “Chito” is quickly rising to the top in the mix of title contention. He will be keeping a close eye on the reigning 135 lbs champion Aljamain Sterling, who is set to square off against former two-time division title holder TJ Dillashaw at UFC 280 on Oct. 22.
The top contender and former interim champion Petr Yan will clash with Sean O’Malley on the same card as Sterling. Depending on who comes out on top of the two contests, the direction of the division would be determined.
Vera inches closer to getting a shot at the gold but will likely not get it immediately in his next bout. Sterling could get a rematch if he loses the title. On the other hand, if O’Malley beats Yan, he could very well be on the way to challenging the champion given, his star power.