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Marlon Vera says moving to the U.S. has made him a better fighter

UFC bantamweight Marlon Vera discusses moving to the United States eight months ago and training at Team Oyama, his recent win over Ning Guangyou, having that bout cancelled twice, and much more.

UFC bantamweight Marlon Vera spoke with BloodyElbow.com’s Nick Baldwin at Team Oyama in Irvine, California earlier this week about a variety of topics, including his recent win over Ning Guangyou at UFC Fight Night 101 in November.

You can watch the full interview above or check out the transcript below.

Let’s dive right in.

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You moved to the United States about a year ago. How much better of a fighter are you since moving here, training at Team Oyama everyday with some of the best coaches and training partners?

I think it has helped me a lot, just because here in the States, we have a lot of fighters, and the sport is a bigger deal here. In my country, the country is not evolving a lot. But they’re working on it — they have a bunch of fighters that are winning fights, so that’s pretty big for my country (Ecuador). I hope I can help them. I’m trying to push them a lot.

Since I moved to the U.S., it’s better for me as a fighter, because I have my own team. It’s a better team, because there’s a bunch of professionals over here. It’s way different. Where I was before, it was more amateur than now. But over here, it’s professional, good training, and I’m feeling great here.

You’re coming off a win over Ning Guangyou, but it didn’t come easy, as far as getting the fight to actually happen. The fight was supposed to happen a couple times in August, and it got cancelled twice. How frustrating was having the fight get cancelled not just once, but twice?

It was kind of tough for me, because I was getting ready for the fight and both fights got cancelled on fight week. So it was kind of bad. Always, everything happens by a reason — this was my first camp (at Team Oyama) — and the reason was get better, get more close to the gym, so I can be more secure in the fight. The more time I get with the team, the better I get. And it worked — we trained more than the first time, more than the second time, so in the third one, everything was great. He was a tough fight, but we got the win.

Was there ever a time when the fights got cancelled where you were wondering, ‘I don’t know if this fight is going to happen, I don’t know if this guy is going to show up. Let’s find a new opponent.’ Were there ever thoughts like that going through your head before the fight actually happened?

Yeah. On my way to Melbourne, I was thinking like, ‘Will I meet this guy there or he can’t come?’ My coach helped a lot with the confidence. He was like, ‘It’s OK, all the hard work is going to pay off.’ My manager was working on it. My team was helping me a lot over here. I know you gotta wait for the process and just get ready for whatever comes.

I imagine you were ridiculously relieved after the fight actually happened, and then, of course, after you got the win.

Yeah. That was big for me, that was big for my career.

You were coming off the loss to Davey Grant in February in London. It was a tough fight. He took you down a couple times and ended up getting the decision. What was your mentality like coming off the loss?

I was obviously pressured, but I tried to get all these things as motivation for me. I fight for a better life. My family, I want to give them the best. I really don’t want that to happen again. So I told myself, ‘Take that as an example, and come and win right now.’

A few months ago, I saw you have a post on social media on Reebok. Are you an official Reebok Ecuador fighter? Do you have an exclusive deal with them?

Not really. We’re getting close, so we will see what happens. I already went to Ecuador to a signing appearance, and it was pretty good, it was fun. So we will see if we get the job done, if we close the deal. I don’t know what’s going to happen — I hope something good. The brand is with the UFC, so we can work together.

How long has that actually been in the works?

That just happened after my fight. We was working on it a couple months before, but what we did for them was right after my fight in Melbourne.

Was it nice not having a fight over the holidays?

I really don’t mind. If I have a fight on something like that, I will fly my family over there and have our dinner. It’s a fight. Whenever it is, the door is closed and we’re going to fight. Some people say, ‘Oh, I lost a fight because the flight was too long’ or ‘because this happened.’ I feel like there’s no excuses.