After adding a third win to his streak with the submission of Brian Kelleher at UFC on FOX 25, Marlon Vera gave two names he’d like to meet: Jimmie Rivera and Brett Johns.
Following the preliminary card scrap with Kelleher (17-8 MMA, 1-1 UFC), Vera (10-3-1 MMA, 4-2 UFC) pointed to Rivera backing out of an agreed-to UFC Fight Night 103 meeting as motivation behind the callout. Rivera, however, went on to win his main card bout with Thomas Almeida a few hours after that – and, in the process, made a pair of high-profile callouts of his own.
While Vera would like that fight, he can totally understand why Rivera would rather make a title bid. Which leaves us with Johns (14-0 MMA, 2-0 UFC). Why target specifically a man who, though undefeated, has only two fights on his record?
Vera explains the whole story. (In the video above, Vera talked about Rivera and Johns immediately after his UFC on FOX 25 win; he expanded on the story to MMAjunkie Radio.) Spoiler alert: there’s beef.
It began in March after UFC Fight Night 107. Vera had just scored a major TKO win over Brad Pickett. Johns was supposed to have fought that night but was left without an opponent after Ian Entwistle was ruled out at the last minute due to medical reasons.
“We were in the hotel drinking some beers and chilling a little,” Vera told MMAjunkie Radio. “I went to him – I don’t know him at all. I just went to him. I was like, ‘Hey, man, I’m really sorry about what happened in your fight. You don’t get the chance to fight, and I hope you get something in the future. Best of wishes.’
“I was so happy, so I was spreading my good energy to a guy who was down that night because his opponent got sick or whatever. And, literally, after I told him that, he was like, ‘Thank you. But you know what, I would like to fight you.’”
Vera, understandably, was a bit thrown off. After all, as someone who would “cry like a little girl” should he lose an opponent in the high-emotion window so close to a fight, he was just trying to sympathize with his fellow bantamweight’s pain.
“In my head, I was like, ‘(Expletive), I’m giving you some love, and you told me that right now in my face?’” Vera said. “I was just making a little bit of fun. Also I had some beers on my head, so I was like, ‘OK, let’s fight right now.’ And I just left.”
After that, “Chito” says he headed back to his table and shared – between laughs, he adds – what happened with his manager. He imagines either Johns himself or a friend saw that, because the Welsh fighter would go on to talk publicly about how Vera was “talking (expletive)” about him.
“And I was like, ‘OK, you’re not a bad guy for calling me out after that,” Vera said. “You’re a (expletive) for switching all the things in the media.”
While seemingly a little baffled, Vera is not particularly peeved by the situation. If anything, he believes getting called out makes his manager’s job a lot easier. And though Vera and Johns went on to beat different opponents since – Kelleher and Albert Morales, respectively – the Ecuadorian would still welcome the chance of settling their score.
But if that doesn’t happen, you know the drill when it comes to Vera – he is game to fight anyone, anytime, anywhere.
“I just want to fight one more time this year,” Vera said. “If everything goes right, we can put a short-notice at the end of the day. But I really would take whatever the UFC wants to give me. I feel I’m ready to start camp in a week.”
For complete coverage of UFC on FOX 25, check out the UFC Events section of the site.
MMAjunkie Radio broadcasts Monday-Friday at 1 p.m. ET (10 a.m. PT) live from Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino’s Race & Sports Book. The show is hosted by “Gorgeous” George Garcia and producer Brian “Goze” Garcia. For more information or to download past episodes, go to www.mmajunkie.com/radio.