Marlon Vera has received a congratulatory message from Ecuadorian President Lenín Moreno after his TKO win over Sean O’Malley at UFC 252 last weekend.
Vera entered the cage with O’Malley, who had never been beaten as a pro mixed martial artist, as a significant betting underdog. Despite being given little credit by the bookmakers, he capitalized on an apparent O’Malley leg injury to finish his foe with a torrent of first-round ground-and-pound.
The victory thrust Vera into the MMA limelight in North America, but also elevated his already burgeoning superstardom in his native Ecuador.
The post-fight props he received from President Moreno is all the proof of that you need.
— Lenín Moreno (@Lenin) August 16, 2020
“Congratulations [Marlon Vera],” Moreno wrote on Twitter. “Your victory is well deserved. Your triumph makes Ecuador greater.”
Post-fight, Vera explained that a controversial decision loss to China’s Song Yadong in his next most recent Octagon appearance gave him extra motivation to spring the upset on O’Malley.
“I believe I’m a solid top 10 [fighter],” Vera said (h/t South China Morning Post). “I’ve been making damage in the division. What happened in the last fight [vs Song] got me pretty upset, pretty angry and actually made me do what I did tonight. I wasn’t happy, I was pushing myself a little harder.
“I was being hard on myself. I wasn’t giving myself a vacation, more cheat days. I was like, ‘It’s time to dig deep,’ and that’s when I find myself even better, and I came to this fight with a mission.”
“I cannot let that happen again in my life,” Vera concluded. “They took half of my cheque. They cut a pretty sweet winning streak, which – I’m at seven right now. I don’t care what they say, I beat the Chinese guy.”
What do you think is next for Marlon Vera at UFC 252?