Originally published at UFC Fight Night Report: Marlon Vera defeats Rob Font in a five-round war
UFC Fight Night Report: Marlon Vera defeats Rob Font in a five-round war
By: Eric Marcotte
On Saturday evening, the UFC held a Fight Night event at the Apex facility in Las Vegas, Nevada. The card featured a bout between two top ten ranked bantamweight fighters in the main event, as Rob Font looked to defend his spot in the rankings against Marlon Vera. Font has looked impressive in recent fights, defeating the likes of Cody Garbrandt and Marlon Moraes, but was coming off of a tough loss to Jose Aldo in his last bout. Vera also has a recent loss to Aldo on his record but has rebounded since, defeating Davie Grant and Frankie Edgar. Font did miss weight by 2.5lbs at the weigh-ins on Friday, but the fight would remain on the card, and Font would forfeit 20% of his purse to Vera as a result. In the co-main event, Andrei Arlovski faced Jake Collier, in what marked Arlovski’s 38th bout in the UFC.
Jon Anik provided commentary for this card alongside Dominick Cruz and Michael Bisping. Performance of the Night bonuses were awarded to Joanderson Brito and Francisco Figueiredo. Marlon Vera versus Rob Font was awarded Fight of the Night, but as Font missed weight, he did not receive his bonus.
*Shanna Young def. Gina Mazany by TKO at 3:11 of Round 2
*Natan Levy def. Mike Breeden by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)
*Gabriel Green def. Yohan Lainesse by TKO at 4:02 of Round 2
*Francisco Figueiredo def. Daniel Da Silva by kneebar at 1:18 of Round 1
*Alexander Romanov def. Chase Sherman by Americana at 2:11 of Round 1
*Krzysztof Jotko def. Gerald Meerschaert by unanimous decision (30-27 all)
*Darren Elkins def. Tristan Connelly by unanimous decision (30-27 all)
*Grant Dawson def. Jared Gordon by rear-naked choke at 4:11 of Round 3
*Joanderson Brito def. Andre Fili by TKO at 0:41 of Round 1
*Andrei Arlovski def. Jake Collier by split decision (29-28, 29-28, 27-30)
*Marlon Vera def. Rob Font by unanimous decision (49-46, 49-46, 48-47)
GINA MAZANY (7-5, 126) VS SHANNA YOUNG (7-4, 125) – FLYWEIGHT
Young was able to defend an early pair of takedown attempts from Mazany. Mazany was landing the vast majority of the strikes when the fighters were separated, and even caught Young with a strong knee up the middle, which was certainly the most impactful strike of the opening round. Young ended the round with a solid right hand, moments after the fighters traded kicks to the body.
Mazany and Young exchanged kicks to the legs and body throughout the opening minute of round two. Mazany was rushing in to close the distance whenever she attacked with combinations, and this allowed Young to counter her opponent on the way in. Mazany finally succeeded in bringing the fight to the ground, but Young scrambled into top position, where she quickly took the back of Mazany. Young postured up and began to throw down numerous ground and pound shots, and despite Mazany’s attempts to cover up, she could not improve her position, and the fight was stopped.
WINNER: Shanna Young by TKO at 3:11 of Round 2
Mazany took the first round decisively, but Young really turned things around in the second. She was starting to take control of the fight on the feet, forcing Mazany to go on the retreat, and ultimately shoot for the takedown that Young reversed, thus leading to the finish. This round showed a version of Shanna Young that we haven’t seen throughout her prior UFC bouts, and she was able to secure her first UFC victory with this stoppage. Young is now 1-2 in the promotion.
NATAN LEVY (6-1, 155) VS MIKE BREEDEN (10-4, 155.5) – LIGHTWEIGHT
Breeden began the fight with a pair of body kicks before he took Levy down against the cage. Levy quickly escaped to his feet but was taken back down following an attempted head kick. Levy was able to escape yet again, this time by threatening a heel hook, but upon returning to his feet, he was caught by a number of hooks from Breeden. An accidental low blow to Levy brought a pause to the action, however, he did not take much time to recover. The fighters traded heavy hooks against the cage before Levy partially connected with another head kick. Levy secured a takedown in the final minute of the round, but Breeden returned to his feet before time expired. Close round. 10-9 Breeden.
Breeden came out swinging in the second round, throwing combinations of hooks to the body. Levy secured another takedown, but he did not rack up much control time, and Breeden returned to his feet. The pace of this bout was exhausting, and both fighters were clearly tired by the midway point of this round. Still, they continued to trade wild hooks in the pocket, with Breeden doing some great bodywork. However, it was ultimately a kick to the body from Levy that hurt Breeden, and Levy followed that up with a wild spinning wheel kick, before taking Breeden down yet again. Once again, Breeden was able to defend himself and return to his feet, but this sequence likely secured the round for Levy. 20-18 Levy.
The corner of Mike Breeden told him he was in need of a finish and stepped on the gas as he attempted to put Levy away early in round three. Breeden was really overwhelming Levy with his output early in this round, and Levy was looking absolutely exhausted, as he desperately attempted to take the fight to the ground. Breeden stuffed Levy’s attempts, and he continued to march forward, attacking the body of Levy with brutal combinations. Just when things were looking very bad for Levy, he landed a huge left hook that practically dropped Breeden, and although he did not have enough energy left in him to finish the fight, Levy did enough in the final minutes to make this round competitive, avoiding a possible 10-8, and arguably even winning the round. 29-28 Levy.
WINNER: Natan Levy by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)
This was a great fight. Breeden never stopped pressuring forward, and his bodywork had Levy in a ton of trouble by the final round. Still, Levy found openings throughout the fight to land huge shots that hurt Breeden, as well as strong wrestling ability, taking Breeden down at will throughout the first two rounds. I thought that both fighters looked great in this fight, and despite the result, Breeden gave a much better account of his abilities here than in his UFC debut. Levy improved to 1-1 in the promotion with this win.
YOHAN LAINESSE (8-0, 169) VS GABRIEL GREEN (10-3, 170.5) – WELTERWEIGHT
Lainesse was active with his leg kicks throughout the first two minutes of the round. Eventually, he pressed forward and connected with a powerful right hand, but Green seemed to recover quickly. Lainesse took Green down with roughly two minutes remaining in the round, but could not keep Green down for long. Green threw a kick up the middle prior to landing a strong jab that made its way through Lainesse’s guard, and then the fighters traded hooks on the break from this exchange.
A huge right hand from Lainesse floored Green early in the second round, and he followed Green to the ground as he attempted to finish the fight. Green recovered, escaping to his feet quickly, and he avoided a guillotine attempt from Lainesse in the process. Lainesse wasted little time in taking the fight back to the ground, but once again he could not find the submission he was looking for, and lost his position. Lainesse was looking tired late in the round, and Green continued to pressure forward, overwhelming Lainesse with combinations against the cage. A number of body shots sent Lainesse to the ground, and Green finished the fight with ground and pound moments later.
WINNER: Gabriel Green by TKO at 4:02 of Round 2
Lainesse certainly has impressive power, but he had a hard time dealing with Green’s pace here, and by the time that Green escaped to his feet for the final time, the momentum of the fight had certainly shifted in Green’s favor, as Lainesse was looking exhausted. Green threw about four consecutive shots to the body during the finishing sequence and coupled with Lainesse’s tired state, that was just too much for Lainesse to weather by that point in the fight. Green is now 2-1 in the UFC, with this marking his first bout in the promotion to not go the distance.
DANIEL DA SILVA (11-2, 125) VS FRANCISCO FIGUEIREDO (12-4-1, 1 NC, 125.5) – FLYWEIGHT
Da Silva and Figueiredo exchanged kicks throughout the opening minute before Da Silva changed levels and took Figueiredo down. Figueiredo immediately went for a kneebar, and he found it quickly, forcing Da Silva to submit.
WINNER: Francisco Figueiredo by kneebar at 1:18 of Round 1
Figueiredo started looking for that kneebar just seconds after being taken down, and his gamble paid off, resulting in the quick finish. Both of Figueiredo’s previous fights in the UFC have gone the distance, so this marked his first finish in the promotion (although his eighth submission win overall). Figueiredo improved to 2-1 in the UFC with this win, and Da Silva has now fallen to 0-2 since making his promotional debut last year.
ALEXANDER ROMANOV (15-0, 236.5) VS CHASE SHERMAN (15-9, 247) – HEAVYWEIGHT
Romanov immediately threw Sherman to the ground, where he began to work from half guard. He worked his way to full mount with over three minutes remaining, and Romanov began to throw down ground and pound, before switching to an Americana, forcing Sherman to submit.
WINNER: Alexander Romanov by Americana at 2:11 of Round 1
Romanov was one of the biggest favorites in UFC history going into this bout, and he made those odds seem a bit too close with this performance. Sherman had no answers for Romanov’s grappling ability, and Romanov decided not to waste any time standing with Sherman, immediately taking him down. Romanov is now 5-0 in the UFC, and he called out Augusto Sakai in his post-fight interview. Romanov has largely dominated the unranked fighters that he’s been matched up against, so I would not be opposed in the slightest to his next bout being against a ranked fighter like Sakai.
KRZYSZTOF JOTKO (23-5, 186) VS GERALD MEERSCHAERT (34-14, 185) – MIDDLEWEIGHT
Jotko defended Meerschaert’s early attempts to bring the fight to the ground and countered strongly whenever Meerschaert went on the attack. Jotko was landing strong hooks, as well as powerful straight left hands that were doing significant damage. With a minute to go in the round, Meerschaert pressed Jotko against the cage as he attempted to bring the fight to the ground, but Jotko defended successfully, and the round ended in this position. 10-9 Jotko.
Jotko’s takedown defense continued to hold up in the second round. Meerschaert found a bit more success with his striking here in the second but still seemed to be a step behind Jotko on the feet. Meerschaert was finally successful in taking Jotko down around the midway point of the round, however, Jotko popped right back to his feet, and secured a takedown of his own. Jotko postured up and ended the round with ground and pound strikes. 20-18 Jotko.
Meerschaert continued to pressure forward in the final round but was quickly taken down by Jotko. Meerschaert threatened submissions off of his back, which prompted Jotko to return to his feet. They exchanged strikes on the feet until Jotko opted to take Meerschaert back down, where he was able to maintain top position until time expired. 30-27 Jotko.
WINNER: Krzysztof Jotko by unanimous decision (30-27 all)
Meerschaert was constantly looking for a finish, throwing heavy shots on the feet, and looking for submissions off of his back, but this was largely a dominant performance from Krzysztof Jotko. Jotko was clearly the more skillful striker and seemed to have the advantage on the ground as well, even if he was not necessarily as active as Meerschaert was. With this win, Jotko has now won five of his last six fights and is unquestionably on his best run in the promotion since 2016.
DARREN ELKINS (26-10, 145.5) VS TRISTAN CONNELLY (14-7, 146) – FEATHERWEIGHT
Elkins closed the distance with a pair of right hooks before taking Connelly down near the cage. Elkins successfully took the back of Connelly, but couldn’t keep the position, and the fight returned to the feet. Connelly threw a big elbow, however, he found himself taken back down just moments later, and Elkins was able to maintain top control for the next minute, landing some strong ground and pound shots in the process. Connelly escaped to his feet and connected with one more big elbow before time expired in the round. 10-9 Elkins.
Connelly defended Elkins’ first takedown attempt of the second round and caught him with a knee to the head in the process. Despite having numerous takedown attempts defended early in this round, Elkins never relented with his pressure, and ultimately was able to take Connelly back down with nearly three minutes to work. Connelly managed to escape as Elkins attempted to take his back, and landed a right hand after making it back to his feet. Connelly landed a series of solid knees to the midsection of Elkins, and it seemed as though the momentum was shifting in his favor, but Elkins was able to bring him back to the ground before time expired in the round. 20-18 Elkins.
Connelly continued to throw heavy elbows, and Elkins responded with a heavy left hook. Both fighters were landing very damaging shots in the clinch, and this round was very hard to score with two minutes remaining in the fight. Elkins eventually changed levels and took Connelly down one last time, where he took the back of Connelly and locked in a body triangle. Elkins nearly had a rear-naked choke sunk in, but Connelly was able to escape, and the fight went the distance. 30-27 Elkins.
WINNER: Darren Elkins by unanimous decision (30-27 all)
This was a very competitive fight for fifteen minutes, with the difference-maker being the wrestling ability of Darren Elkins. Elkins found a takedown whenever he was seemingly in need of one, never being deterred by Connelly’s successful attempts and keeping the fight on the feet. While the damage seemed to be fairly evenly distributed on the feet, the ground and pound strikes from Elkins, as well as his attempts at securing submissions, gave him the edge on the scorecards in rounds two and three, rounds that were practically a coinflip otherwise. In his post-fight interview, Elkins made it clear that he would like to sign a new contract with the UFC, as this was the last fight on his deal.
JARED GORDON (18-4, 155.5) VS GRANT DAWSON (17-1-1, 155.5) – LIGHTWEIGHT
Gordon stopped an early trip attempt from Dawson, taking him down in the process. The fight quickly returned to the feet, but Dawson eventually found the takedown he was looking for, quickly taking the back of Gordon. Dawson maintained this position for the remainder of the round and landed enough left hands from Gordon’s back to take the round on the scorecards.
Dawson brought Gordon back to the ground in the opening minute of round two, immediately taking his back once again. Much like the first round, he maintained this position for a considerable amount of time, but with just under two minutes remaining in this round, Dawson scrambled to his feet, where he began to go on the attack in an attempt to make up ground. Despite Gordon’s pressure, Dawson was able to secure one more takedown, and he ended the round on top.
Gordon connected with a significant right hand to begin the final round and landed a strong combination after stuffing a takedown attempt from Dawson. Dawson was throwing elbows as Gordon moved forward, and one opened up a big cut in the middle of Gordon’s forehead. Gordon did a good job of defending takedown attempts from Dawson but chose to follow Dawson to the ground after a slip, which allowed Dawson to grab a hold of a leg, bringing the fight back to his comfort zone. Once again, Dawson transitioned to the back of Gordon, and this time when he threw up a rear-naked choke, he locked the hold in, forcing Gordon to submit.
WINNER: Grant Dawson by rear-naked choke at 4:11 of Round 3
Dawson was able to take Gordon down at will here, at least until the final round. Despite clearly losing the first ten minutes of the bout, I thought Gordon was fighting his best round of the fight in the third, that was at least until Dawson capitalized on his moment of opportunity near the fight’s final minute, taking Gordon down and securing the finish moments later. Dawson is now 6-0-1 in the UFC, and as he stated in his post-fight interview, has not lost a professional bout since Barak Obama’s presidency. Dawson is rapidly approaching ranked opposition, and his style will make him a difficult matchup for numerous opponents at 155lbs.
ANDRE FILI (21-8-1, 1 NC, 145.5) VS JOANDERSON BRITO (12-3-1, 145.5) – FEATHERWEIGHT
Less than a minute into the fight, Brito caught Fili with a looping right hand, and he immediately followed him to the ground, finishing the bout with hammerfists.
WINNER: Joanderson Brito by TKO at 0:41 of Round 1
Fili is one of the most durable fighters in the division, but Brito caught him with a bomb here, and with this stoppage, Joanderson Brito became the first fighter to finish Andre Fili since 2016. Brito was not a fighter who left a huge impression on me following his UFC debut (a decision loss to Bill Algeo earlier this year), however, this was a result that will shoot him up the rankings, stopping a fighter in Andre Fili who has been hovering around the top fifteen range for years. Brito’s post-fight interview was quite emotional, as he discussed the difficulties of fighting tonight, as his uncle had tragically passed away earlier in the day.
ANDREI ARLOVSKI (33-20, 2 NC, 246) VS JAKE COLLIER (13-6, 265) – HEAVYWEIGHT
Collier quickly pressed Arlovski against the cage, where he kept him for nearly half the round. Arlovski eventually broke away, and the fighters began to trade short combinations. Collier connected with a pair of looping left hooks. An accidental clash of heads resulted in a brief pause in the action, but neither fighter was really given any time to recover, and Collier cut Arlovski open with an elbow as the fight resumed. Both men connected with strong counter hooks before time in the round expired. 10-9 Collier.
Collier backed Arlovski back into the cage, where he connected with another big left hook. Arlovski was finding a home for his right hand, but the bigger shots seemed to be coming from Collier, who was putting a lot of power into his combinations. A straight right hand from Arlovski caught Collier on his way in, and Collier began to hunt for a takedown in response. Collier was successful in taking Arlovski down, but could not hold him there for long. They exchanged jabs, before Arlovski really turned it on in the final seconds of the round, swarming forward while throwing a combination of strikes, ending the round strongly. 19-19.
Arlovski’s corner told him that he was likely down, and in need of a finish to win this fight. There was yet another clash of heads, which resulted in another break in the action. Both fighters were attacking in combination, and it was tough to tell who was landing the bigger shots by this point in the bout. Collier’s face was a mess, but he continued to slowly march forward, putting everything he had into each of his shots. He landed a big right hand in the final minute and followed that up with a hard jab. As time was running out in the round, Arlovski loaded up with a big spinning back fist, and Collier ducked under it to take Arlovski down to end the round. 29-28 Collier.
WINNER: Andrei Arlovski by split decision (29-28, 29-28, 27-30)
I scored the fight for Collier, but the final two rounds were quite close. The fighters had a very similar output offensively, and Collier’s control time did not lead to much, so this one really came down to whomever you felt dealt out more damage, despite the very similar output. Personally, I thought that was Collier, but I was not as offended by this decision as some were. Arlovski had now won four consecutive fights, and this remarkably marked his 38th bout in the UFC, which puts him just one fight behind Jim Miller for the all-time record.
ROB FONT (19-5, 138.5) VS MARLON VERA (18-7-1, 136) – BANTAMWEIGHT
Font missed weight by 2.5lbs and was fined 20% of his purse.
Font and Vera touched gloves to begin the fight. Font worked his jab early, landing a number of straight right hands as well. Vera was active with kicks in response, largely attacking the lead leg of Font. Font was throwing numerous shots to the body as well, often uppercuts from the clinch. Eventually, those uppercuts started to land to the head, which was a weapon that Font consistently utilized late in the round. 10-9 Font.
Font connected with a strong combination of hooks to begin the second round. Font caught a kick from Vera, backed him into the fence, and proceeded to throw a brutal right hand that found its target. Vera taunted Font in response, and he landed a head kick moments later. Font was fighting at a ridiculous pace, but Vera has never been one to get overwhelmed in terms of activity, and he was holding his own here, landing strong kicks to the head and body. Font’s combinations were beautiful here, mixing things up to the head and body, while clearly landing with significant power. As Font pressured forward late in the round, Vera dropped him with a hook, and he ended the round in top position, throwing down hard elbows. 19-19.
After getting rocked near the end of the previous round, Font changed his game plan in round three, as he quickly shot for a takedown. Vera defended the attempt but ate a big elbow on the break. Vera continued to attack the lead leg of Font, which prompted Font to respond in kind. Font fired his jab constantly, often following it up with a hard straight right hand. Late in the round, a jumping knee from Vera found its target, and he rocked Font yet again, sending him stumbling down to the canvas. There was not enough time left in the round for Vera to secure the finish, but once again, Vera stole this round back in the final seconds. 29-28 Vera.
Font landed the first big shot of the fourth round, a strong straight right hand. Vera grazed Font with an elbow that cut him open on the left side of his head. A left hook from Vera found its target, along with a strong jab. A sidekick to the head from Vera dropped Font hard, who was a bloody mess by this point in the bout. Vera chose not to follow Font to the ground and allowed him to his feet. This was the best round for Vera yet, who was clearly up on the scorecards with three knockdowns throughout the last three rounds. 39-37 Vera.
Font continued to pressure forward in the final round, and despite the damage, he had taken to this point, he had yet to slow down at all in terms of output. Vera was slightly less active than Font in this fifth round, perhaps with the knowledge that he was up on the scorecards, but his shots were still damaging, and Font was having trouble dealing with Vera’s power. One last time, Vera hurt Font in the final seconds of the round, landing a sidekick to the head, but this time, Font was able to stay on his feet, and this one went the distance. 49-46 Vera.
WINNER: Marlon Vera by unanimous decision (49-46, 49-46, 48-47)
This was a phenomenal fight. The output from both of these men, especially Font, was absolutely ridiculous throughout all five rounds of this bout, but the difference maker was ultimately Vera’s power (as well as his iron chin). The final four rounds were all very similar in the sense that Font seemed to be a step ahead of Vera for eighty percent of the round, but then he would be caught by a huge shot from Vera that would nearly finish him before time expired. Honestly, this was a very similar fight to Font’s last bout against Jose Aldo, and he has taken a worrying amount of damage throughout these two bouts. Between the weight miss, the damage is taken, and the loss of his top-five ranking in the division, this was certainly a very rough night for Rob Font, but it does feel as though he could re-establish himself as a contender in the division with a few adjustments. For Vera, this was the biggest win of his career to this point, beating a top-five opponent in his first UFC main event. His style is perfectly suited to a five-round fight, and it’s entirely possible that a win in his next bout could earn him a title shot (although there is no shortage of contenders at 135lbs).