More than five years after their first meeting, Vera proved just how much he’s learned as he brutalized Grant with a series of nasty inside elbows and just poured on the punishment in each passing minute to secure the hard-fought victory.
When the fight was over, the judges scored the fight 29-27, 29-28 and 30-27 as Vera returns to the win column with a unanimous decision victory.
Afterwards, Vera was already looking towards the future while pointing at former bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz as a potential opponent as he called the fights cage side in the UFC APEX.
“I’m feeling great,” Vera said. “We’ll get the job done, we’ll get better soon.
“I want to fight. I’m going to go back to the gym on Tuesday. Anybody that wants to fight — [Dominick Cruz] let’s go.”
Prior to the call out, the bantamweights were more than happy to trade strikes in the opening round with Grant finding a regular home for his left hook while Vera was staying quick on his feet as he launched multi-shot combinations.
Grant was staying very busy with his boxing, throwing with incredible volume but he was also eating a lot of calf kicks from Vera, who was looking to take out his foundation before going back up to the head.
As time passed into the second round, Grant was still throwing with heat behind all of his punches but Vera evened the score after he got inside, grabbed onto the clinch and unloaded a series of slicing elbows. The last elbow that landed opened a nasty gash on Grant’s head that began pouring blood down his face.
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To turn the tide, Grant looked for the takedown and the strategy worked for a moment but then Vera reversed positions as he got on top and unloaded with a barrage of strikes just before time ran out.
With five minutes remaining, Grant knew he had to change the momentum in a hurry and he very nearly did that after he appeared to wobble Vera with a hard shot at the start of the final round. Perhaps he was just biding his time because Vera then came right back at him with a huge knee up the middle followed by a series of punches to the head and body.
The fighters were just trading blows until Vera opted to bring the action down to the mat where he was constantly looking to improve his position while still firing away with punches whenever he found the smallest opening in Grant’s defense. The punishment continued until the final horn sounded with Vera realizing that he had done more than enough to secure the victory.
Now 7-2 in his past nine fights, Vera continues to prove he’s going to be a tough out for anybody at 135 pounds and a showdown with a former champion like Cruz might be an interesting next step in his career.