Top-ranked bantamweights Rob Font and Marlon “Chito” Vera will look to put themselves in the title conversation when they clash at UFC Vegas 53.
Stop sleeping on @RobSFont 👊
— UFC (@ufc) April 27, 2022
For Rob Font, Saturday’s headliner is a redemption of sorts. After stringing together a four fight win-streak, he booked a potential title eliminator against a living legend in José Aldo and found himself just overmatched against the former champion. While it was not a heartbreaking blowout, it did come dishearteningly after Font had done the hard work to finally break out from the middle of the pack. Since joining the UFC in 2014, Font had struggled to put more than two consecutive victories together going into 2018 and injuries had kept him from having an active schedule.
The loss to Aldo does not undo the three year campaign he strung together to reach this critical juncture. Starting in 2018, he put together a four fight win-streak with victories over reigning Bellator champion Sergio Pettis, former champion Cody Garbrandt, former title challenger Marlon Moraes, and durable veteran Ricky Simon. A victory over Vera this Saturday would add yet another impressive contender to his resume, and re-inject momentum into his title aspirations, though missing weight Friday could complicate matters.
Just kickin' it 🦶
— UFC (@ufc) April 25, 2022
It is easy to forget that Marlon Vera is just now entering his athletic prime at 29 years-old. The longtime veteran has been part of the UFC since appearing on The Ultimate Fighter: Latin America in 2014. Though an infection forced him out of the tournament, he has since become one of the most accomplished alumni from recent iterations of the program in becoming a perennially ranked contender in one of the most competitive weight classes in mixed martial arts.
Similar to Font, the rise up the rankings for “Chito” took time after an inauspicious 1-2 start in the promotion and another two fight skid shortly afterward. Since 2018, he has posted an impressive 8-2 mark that has seen him dispatch the likes of Frankie Edgar, Andre Ewell, and Frankie Saenz. His biggest career breakthrough came in 2020 where he defeated Contender Series standout Sean O’Malley and he currently rides a two fight win-streak going into Saturday’s headliner.
Font will benefit from having potentially five rounds to work against Vera after having recently proven his gas tank in going the distance. Font should look to use a patient approach and get in-and-out with Vera to take the fight to the later rounds. Vera’s physicality and grappling figure to give him the advantage in the center of the Octagon should Font look to exchange and sit down on kicks. As such, he must look to force Vera into taking risks in order to close the distance. “Chito” should look to push forward against Font and cut off the fence so as to chip away at the conditioning of the New England Cartel fighter early and make him an easier target as the fight goes on.
The winner of Saturday’s bout has any number of options going forward as top-ranked contenders such as Aldo, Dominick Cruz, Cory Sandhagen, and even returning former champion Henry Cejudo would be potential foes that would propel either Vera or Font into the title picture. More than likely, Saturday’s winner will wait to see how the aforementioned contenders are matched up in order to find the best opponent for their next outing.