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Marlon Vera wants top-ranked opponent next, thinks Dominick Cruz makes sense

LAS VEGAS – After getting back in the win column, Marlon Vera is targeting a former champion.

Vera (17-7-1 MMA, 8-3-1 UFC) avenged his loss to Davey Grant by defeating him at UFC on ESPN 25 on Saturday, earning “Fight of the Night” honors for their bloody war.

In his post-fight interview in the octagon, Vera called out No. 9-ranked Dominick Cruz, a fight he sees as a logical next step for him in his ascent up the 135-pound ladder.

“I would like to fight with Cruz,” Vera said at the post-fight news conference. “It’s not like I’m dying for the fight, but I think it makes sense. But anybody in the top 10 to top five, I would love to fight. Since they gave me this rematch, I’d be willing to fight (Jose) Aldo next, but I don’t think he’ll do it. Before the fight last time, he declined a five-rounder – so I think he knew. But f*ck it. I take the loss like a man, I get better, and I was able to do that today.”

Cruz (23-3 MMA, 6-2 UFC), who was on commentary duty for Vera’s fight, respectfully declined the offer, claiming he, too, would like to face someone ranked above him. But Vera thinks the UFC matchmakers may be on the same page as him and offer him the matchup next.

“I respect him for that, but the UFC might call him for the fight,” Vera said. “We’ll see. If I’m not wrong, they called him before after my fight with Song Yadong, and I believe he declined it – so we’ll see what happens. I’m going to fight anybody at any time, so they know me.”

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