A loss to Jose Aldo changed Marlon Vera’s career.
After he dropped a unanimous decision to Aldo (31-8 MMA, 13-7 UFC) in December 2020, Vera (22-7-1 MMA, 14-6 UFC) won four straight, including knockouts of former champions Frankie Edgar and Dominick Cruz.
Although he lost Round 1 to Aldo, Vera won Round 2. However, he couldn’t close out the fight strongly enough. Vera has a tendency of starting out slow, but finds ways to unleash his killer instinct in his recent run. With Aldo’s retirement from MMA last week, Vera won’t get his rematch but is happy to see “The King of Rio” go out on his own terms.
“As an opponent, it was a close fight,” Vera told Submission Radio. “I definitely was bitter for a long time, just because of how I lost. I felt I could just do better. But you know, I took it like a man, I took it in on the chin. I blame it on me because it was my fault why I lost that fight. But that’s neither here nor there, and he taught me a big lesson. I never, almost like, took it easy. Because I did take it easy in the third, fourth round, (I thought), ‘This guy is done. I’m gonna f*ck him up.’ And I unfocused and I paid the price. But that lesson made me a f*cking monster. (It) made me harder on myself, made me be smart, made me just be better. So thanks for that.
“I was hoping to rematch him and just f*cking destroy him, but that didn’t happen and it’s not gonna happen. So, I’m not the type of person that holds on to anything. I’m just ready to go. I learned from it and I definitely, definitely improved from it. I’m really happy he retired, because he wasn’t really hanging with the younger guys. He was about to just get him f*cked up, over and over and over. And he’s retiring on top, basically. Good for him. He’s being smart about his career. Why get in there with younger guys and lose a bunch of times? I believe he retired just in perfect time. So, good for him.”
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A former featherweight king, Aldo’s final octagon stretch came at bantamweight. Prior to the drop to 135 pounds, he suffered consecutive stoppage losses to Max Holloway and was out-struck by current UFC 145-pound champ Alexander Volkanovski. With that, even, “Chito” still views Aldo as the greatest featherweight of all time.
“The guy is the best featherweight of all time, as of today,” Vera said. “Maybe somebody (will) do something bigger and better in the next couple, five, ten years. But as of now, it doesn’t matter what Volkanovski or Holloway did – both great – but Aldo just did more for longer times. He’s WEC (champion), so you gotta pay the respect when you have to.”
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Story originally appeared on MMA Junkie