Marlon Vera hit a home run at UFC Fight Night in San Diego. Vera uncorked a nasty head kick that sent Dominick Cruz crashing into the canvas on Saturday night in the main event from the Pechanga Arena.
Cruz and Vera fought true to expectations. Cruz perplexed his opponent with boxing combinations, kicks to all targets, takedowns, feints and movement. Vera, a notoriously slow starter, found a crucial moment of success in Round 1 with a left hook that seated Cruz. The former UFC bantamweight champion better executed his game plan in Round 2, continuing to outpoint his opponent while avoiding damage.
Vera again dropped Cruz in Round 3. It was a relatively competitive round, but Vera's ability to make reads and land regularly brought with it a notion that the end may be near. That certainly was the case in Round 4. Vera backed up Cruz with a combination of punches and rattled off a head kick that found the mark. Cruz faceplanted as "Chito" delivered three follow-up punches. Cruz had difficulty regaining his balance and his nose was noticeably damaged as referee Herb Dean helped him to his feet.
"Hey, San Diego. All the respect to your boy [Cruz]. I'm a professional. Thank you everybody for showing up. I'm f---ing packing out arenas today, huh?" Vera said during his post-fight interview. 'I'm going to keep kicking ass. Ecuador, I'm going to be a world champion."
Vera improved to 20-7-1 and becomes the first bantamweight with 10 finishes in UFC history. He extended his winning streak to four following wins over Rob Font, Frankie Edgar and Davey Grant. Cruz dropped to 24-4 professionally.