NEW YORK – Marlon Vera recaptured the attention of the UFC brass and MMA fans around the world when he finished former lightweight champion Frankie Edgar on Saturday at Madison Square Garden.

Vera continued his ascent up the bantamweight ladder when he stopped Edgar (24-9-1 MMA, 18-9-1 UFC) with a TKO from a front kick to the face in Round 3 of their three-round main card fight at UFC 268. The moment, in Vera’s estimation, was one of the most exhilarating of his career.

“To win in Madison Square Garden?” Vera told MMA Junkie at a post-fight news conference. “F*ck, that was a nice feeling. I came into this fight week with a different feeling. I had a weird energy for good. I was waking up feeling really good. I had a smooth weight cut. It’s hard to cut that much weight but, f*ck, it’s a dream come true fighting in MSG, winning in there (in) the fight before the co-main event. What else can I ask (for)?

“Like for me, I’m grateful for the moment. I’m happy. I’m enjoying it. I’m pretty excited about the future. I’m going to get back to work soon and keep it up. This is already going. Now, I’ve got to create new memories.”

Minutes prior to the finish, Vera and Edgar had an unusual and out-of-character exchange as the second round concluded. When the referee stepped between them to signal the end of the round, Edgar and Vera jawed at one another. That’s when Vera flipped his middle finger at Edgar, which confused UFC commentators Jon Anik, Joe Rogan and Daniel Cormier.

For Vera, though, the move was not personal.

“It’s just mind games,” Vera said. “We made eye contact. He gave me like a tough look, so I’m like, ‘F*ck you, what?’ At the end of the day, he’s a legend. I wish him the best. He’s a fighter. A lot of people believe we should be hugging each other and bowing. Like, no. We’re fighting for money. We’re not fighting for fun or a medal. We fight to feed our families. I fight to become a world champion.”

UFC 268 took place Saturday at Madison Square Garden. The main card streamed on ESPN+ after prelims on ESPN News/ESPN+.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *