In less than a week, Chito Vera will face his biggest and toughest challenge to date when he takes on 5th ranked John Lineker in Sao Paulo. Three straight wins have landed the Ecuadorian the opportunity and he is confident that he will get the job done.
He was offered a fight earlier in the month in Vegas but his opponent declined. This may have come as a blessing in disguise as now he has a chance to catapult himself into bantamweight elite.
The task ahead of him is not an easy one but Vera feels that Lineker’s approach is pretty straightforward and that he’ll be able to avoid his strengths.
“Lineker is obviously dangerous with his punches and I have to stick to the game plan and not to do the exact same dumb thing everyone does against him and start swinging,” Vera said. “The thing is to stay calm.”
“He’s a great opportunity for me. I just feel he’s a one dimensional fighter so I don’t think you can beat me with just one weapon. I feel I’m well rounded and I’ve put a lot of work in for this fight.”
The move to Team Oyama has paid dividends for Vera who has scored finishes in his two of his last 3 wins. His work with head coach Colin Oyama has shown improvements in his all around game.
“Team Oyama is definitely the reason I’m getting better,” Vera said. “Coach Colin is a veteran in the sport that has so much experience. I feel like he changed my game and showed me a lot of things that I wasn’t doing right.”
Vera has seen success in and out of the octagon as he recently landed a massive Pepsi commercial in Ecuador. He’s also been doing some commentary and analyst work for UFC Espanol as he sees this as something he can continue doing beyond fighting.
“That’s something huge for me,” Vera said on the Pepsi commercial. “I don’t need to ask for these things, these things just come because of my performances and how I can deal with exposure and the media. For me it’s all about winning, I’m not focused on being famous.”
And through his analyst work, Vera is able to closely study his division and all the fighters on the roster. He’s a fan of the sport and would even like to make an appearance on UFC Now in addition to the Spanish version, UFC Ahora.
“I love it. I know almost every fighter in the UFC, I know a lot of history, and I know who they fought before and who they’re fighting. I like to do the Spanish one but I also want to do the English one because my English is getting better constantly.”
The bantamweight division has been booming and with the top ranked guys fighting much lower ranked or even unranked opponents, Vera believes it’s time for the new breed to shine.
“I feel it’s time for new blood because all the top guys have been fighting for a while,” Vera explained. “I feel like I’m going to be the next big one, I truly believe in that and I’m ready to make it happen.”
Vera tried to fast track his career when he offered to step in for Bryan Caraway and take on Jimmie Rivera in the beginning of the year. Rivera declined Vera as a short notice replacement and the fight was removed from the card entirely.
Rivera didn’t think Vera was worthy enough as a replacement and claimed he’d look like a bully if he accepted the fight. Vera took offence to that.
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“I really feel like the guy is nobody even though he has a good win streak,” Vera said on Rivera. “Nobody is concerned about his fights, he’s really boring.”
“You can see in his last fight, in the third round he was beaten. He won the fight because he won the first two rounds but then in the last round when Almeida brought his heart and started fighting hard, he was in his face and he doesn’t like it when someone brings it to him.”
That being said, Vera knows he has a tough task at hand in Lineker and should the opportunity present itself, he’d love to make Rivera pay for his words.
“I don’t care about Rivera, I’m focused on Lineker but if I win the fight, I’ll ask for the winner of Cruz and Rivera.”
All the doors and opportunities lie ahead for the young Ecuadorian who seems to have finally gotten his career together. After being forced out of the Ultimate Fighter and going 1-2 in his first 3 UFC fights, he has finally found his groove.
Vera believes this Saturday is just the beginning.
“I’m winning the fight, I don’t know how and I don’t care how. I will show on the 28th that I’m the guy everybody has to watch out for. I truly believe that.”