Marlon Vera: Dominick Cruz’s signature approach ‘very low level’ and ‘not the best style for MMA’

Marlon Vera had Dominique CruzSaturday’s number.

“Chito” needed time to put Cruz down for good, but by round four he was locked in and he landed a brutal headbutt which left Cruz face down on the mat to cap off the UFCSan Diego main event. It was the fourth straight win for Vera, who entered the weekend as the No. 7 bantamweight in MMA Fighting World Ranking.

At the evening’s post-fight press conference, Vera was asked if there was anything about Cruz’s unique stand-up style that confused him, and he downplayed the difficulty of the match.

“Honestly, me and my team, we really think the way he fights is very low level,” Vera said. “There’s no base, there’s no good position, all this side-to-side movement – we were like, ‘We have to kick this guy’s ass. But saying that puts a lot of pressure on yourself.

“I just believe his style is not the best style for MMA. Maybe for boxing it can work better, but for MMA you have way too many guns. Which he does well , he mixes takedowns with that move. That’s when he’s successful. But I was like, it’s going to be hard for him to fight me, so we were pretty confident, but we knew this fight wasn’t was not easy.

Cruz’s career accomplishments include a 24-4 record and championship reigns in the UFC and WEC. He is legendary for his evasion and durability, with only one knockout loss on his record prior to his fight with Vera. That loss, a second-round TKO at the hands of Henry Cejudo at UFC 249, was hotly contested by Cruzbut there was no debate over Saturday’s finish.

Vera actually hurt Cruz a few times earlier in the fight, but he played it safe instead of rushing for a finish.

“I was just patient, taking my time,” Vera said. “I dropped him in the first round, and when I dropped him I didn’t go crazy. I didn’t try to run after the finish, I never ran after the finish. I have no problem standing in front of you and finding those openings.

“He’s in really good shape,” Vera added. “When you are fit you can get up and he can do really well. So when I first dropped him in the first round, the first thing that came to mind was what happened in the [Cruz vs. Pedro] Combat Munhoz. Munhoz rushed to the finish and then he kind of left it all on the first lap, so I was like, “I’ve got four more fucking laps to break this guy, so don’t go crazy.” This thing (points to head) is fucking shit, so I was like, ‘Stay focused and you’ll catch it.’

With the impressive knockout, Vera extended his record for the most finishes in UFC bantamweight history to 10. His last three wins have come against ranked opponents (Cruz, Rob Police, Frankie Edgar) and he has one of the strongest arguments for a title in his division.

However, there are several contenders in the same range, including the likes of petr yan, Sean O’Malley, Jose Aldoand Merab Dvalishvili, all of whom are expected to compete in the coming months and could block Vera’s path to a title. Not to mention the bantamweight champion himself, Aljamain Sterlingwho will then defend his title against TJ Dillashaw at UFC 280 in October.

Vera plans to keep a close eye on her peers and how the title picture is progressing.

“I pay attention to every UFC, top to bottom,” Vera said. “It doesn’t matter who’s fighting, it doesn’t matter who’s the first or the last fight of the night, I’m watching. I like to watch. That’s why I like commentating, because I’m watching live. I can pick up the energy of the fight, I can see what’s going on in there. I will definitely be careful and see who they give [Sterling] Next.”

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