The rising bantamweight contender takes on former UFC and WEC featherweight champion and recent bantamweight title challenger Jose Aldo in the co-main event on Saturday night in Las Vegas. It’s a big fight in the UFC’s 135-pound division, and Vera (18-6-1 MMA, 10-5 UFC) believes it’s one that should put him in the title mix if victorious.
“Yeah, 100 percent, that’s the idea of asking for one of these fights,” Vera told MMA Junkie in Spanish during Thursday’s media day. A victory over someone like him, it puts me directly in line to fight for the belt.
“He was coming off a title fight, which on the business end, if I beat someone who’s coming off a title loss, that puts me in line. We asked for him (Aldo), Edgar or Cruz, and I got him. So I’m happy about the opportunity. I’m prepared, and I can’t wait to do my job.”
Vera is coming off a first-round TKO win over Sean O’Malley at UFC 252 in August. The win extended his latest run to 6-1 in his past seven outings with the lone defeat being a controversial decision against Song Yadong.
Meanwhile, Aldo was last seen in July when he lost to current bantamweight champion Petr Yan for the vacant belt. On paper, Aldo is the highest profile opponent Vera has faced in his career despite the Brazilian coming off three straight defeats.
“This is the opportunity that you ask for when you win a big fight and you’re in a position to see what you can get,” Vera explained. “It’s a fight of styles. He’s on his way down, I’m on my way up, and we’re meeting in the middle. He either stays up or I go up, so one of us is going out on top, and I’m hoping that’s me.”
Despite fighting who many consider to be a living legend, Vera feels differently. He understands it’s a big fight but nothing beyond that.
“Not to disrespect anyone, but I don’t see him that way (like a legend),” Vera said. “For me, he’s just another fighter in front of me, and I can’t fight him looking up. I have to fight him looking into his eyes and moving forward, and that’s it. Looking up is only for God, so for me there is no great man or impossible challenge.
“I’m ready and prepared, and Saturday we’re going to see what I bring. I’m very prepared, and I have a lot of fight in me.”