Expect Marlon Vera to climb the official UFC bantamweight rankings when the promotion tallies the updates in the days following Saturday’s UFC Vegas 53 fight card.
Vera was the No. 8 ranked fighter heading into his main event contest against the No. 5 ranked Rob Font. Over the course of the 25-minute contest, Vera scored three knockdowns while delivering an otherworldly amount of damage to the visage of his opponent. As for Vera, he left the octagon in almost the same manner he entered it, despite Font outlanding him by over 110 significant strikes.
With the victory, Vera is on a three-fight winning streak and 9-2 in his past 11 fights.
Meanwhile, in the co-main event of UFC Vegas 53, former UFC heavyweight champion Andrei Arlovski scored a decision win. The veteran fighter is now riding a four-fight winning streak, which is his longest stretch of wins in the UFC since he went 4-0 between 2014 and 2015.
Read on for the winners and losers of UFC Vegas 53.
Marlon Vera: Marlon Vera continued his climb up the bantamweight ladder on Saturday night with a decision win over Rob Font. Font outlanded Vera in every round, but it was Vera who did most of the damage throughout the 25-minute scrap.
Vera looked confident — bordering on cocky — throughout the fight. Even though Font produced more offense than him, Vera scored big with three knockdowns and a frightening amount of damage.
Vera displayed a deep gas tank, mental toughness, the ability to mix up his targets and attacks throughout the entire fight.
Following his win, the 29-year-old said his wish is to face any of the fighters who are ranked No. 2 through No. 5. Those men are T.J. Dillashaw, Jose Aldo and Cory Sandhagen.
Andrei Arlovski: With his split decision win over Jake Collier, Andrei Arlovski tied Jim Miller and Donald Cerrone for most victories in UFC history with 23.
Joanderson Brito: I was impressed with Joanderson Brito’s aggression in his UFC debut, but noted that his fight IQ and cardio failed him in that January loss to Bill Algeo. We don’t know if Brito improved on those shortcomings because he came out and put Andre Fili away with strikes in under a minute in a crazy-impressive performance in his second UFC fight.
Grant Dawson: Grant Dawson extended his unbeaten streak to 10 fights with a submission win over Jared Gordon at UFC Vegas 53. Gordon was the better striker of the two, but Dawson neutralized that deficit by working his superior wrestling and grappling skills. Dawson has not lost since he signed with the UFC and his record with the promotion is now 6-0-1 and he looks like he is ready for top-15 lightweight competition.
Darren Elkins vs. Tristan Connelly: Darren Elkins fought out his UFC contract on Saturday and picked up his 17th UFC win in a typical Darren Elkins fight, which is to say, a crowd pleasing scrap with plenty of violence. The soon to be 38-year-old bounced back from a December TKO loss to Cub Swanson.
Krzysztof Jotko: Krzysztof Jotko moved his record over the past three years to 5-1 and he did so with relative ease, defeating Gerald Meerschaert via unanimous decision. Jotko was faster and more powerful than Meerschaert over the course of the fight. The knock against Jotko is going to continue to be his lack of finishes. He only has one stoppage in the UFC and that came in 2016 against Tamdan McCrory.
Alexander Romanov: Alexander Romanov moved to 16-0 overall and 5-0 in the UFC on Saturday night and he made it look easy. Romanov, who is known for his wrestling, displayed those skills in the early moments of the contest as he threw Chase Sherman with ease. From there, Romanov showed his skills in transitioning to mount and then moving his opponent to the cage where ground strikes set up the submission, which came at the 2:11 mark of Round 1.
After his win, the 31-year-old said he is ready for top-15 ranked competition. It’s hard to disagree with Romanov.
Chase Sherman: Well, at least Chase Sherman got a decent deal to take the fight — and beatdown — from Alexander Romanov.
Francisco Figueiredo: Wow, talk about situational awareness. Daniel Lacerda got a little sloppy during a scramble on the mat and Francisco Figueiredo used that lapse to lock up a kneebar and close out the fight 78 seconds into the flyweight contest. Impressive stuff from Figueiredo, who moved to 2-1 in the UFC with the win.
Gabriel Green: Gabriel Green got a nice finish in the second round of his welterweight bout against Yohan Lainesse. The fight was the first for Green since a decision win in February 2021. Green showed some improvement since that contest. However, he remains a work in progress, which he acknowledged in his post-fight interview with Michael Bisping. That type of self-awareness is a plus for any fighter.
Natan Levy vs. Mike Breeden: This was a fun fight with both fighters showing strengths and weaknesses. Natan Levy showed good wrestling in the first and second stanza, but his cardio seemed to fail him in the early stages of the third round. Mike Breeden showed a lot of heart in the third round by doing everything he could to get the needed finish.
This outing should serve as a good learning experience for both men.
Shanna Young: Shanna Young did not have a good first round against Gina Mazany, but she had an outstanding second round.
Young turned the fight around at about the halfway mark of the second stanza. Mazany attempted to get the contest to the mat with a throw, but Mazany did not accept the takedown attempt and scrambled to top position. From there, she used her wrestling skills to keep Mazany on the mat and take back control. Once she flattened out Mazany, Young teed off with head strikes that brought the fight to a close.
Young had an excellent comeback and showed impressive finishing instincts in getting her first UFC win.
Jason Herzog: Instead of just yelling “let go of the fence” or slapping at a hand, referee Jason Herzog paused the action in the Darren Elkins vs. Tristan Connelly bout to reset the action after a fence grab from Connelly prevented a takedown from taking place. It was a great move and one that more referees need to emulate.
Rob Font: Rob Font fought well against Marlon Vera, but his volume did little to deter his opponent or sway the judges. What made things even worse for Font is that even if he would have defeated Vera, his victory would have been tainted because he weighed in 2.5 pounds heavy for the contest.
With the defeat, Font is now on the first two-fight losing skid of his career. Expect him to drop out of the top-5 of the official UFC bantamweight rankings with this setback. The 34-year-old is going to have to have a handful of questions to answer ahead of his next bout — which hopefully will be a long way off because he needs significant recovery time from the thrashing he took on Saturday night.
Gerald Meerschaert: Gerald Meerschaert saw his three-fight winning streak ended on Saturday when Krzysztof Jotko outworked him. The 34-year-old was slower than his opponent and unable to adjust to Jotko’s approach over the course of the fight. It might be time for Meerschaert to add some wrinkles to his game as age catches up with him.
Gina Mazany: Gina Mazany had a solid first-round against Shanna Young, but once her takedown attempt failed in the second round, things fell apart for her.
Once Young took Mazany’s back, Mazany seemed to accept the position and the strikes her opponent rained down on her. It almost seemed as if Mazany lost the will to fight once Young took a dominant position.
The loss put Mazany on a two-fight losing skid. UFC Vegas 53 marked her first fight since May 2021. Mazany has not won since she defeated Rachael Ostovich in November 2020. She is now 2-6 in the UFC.
Din Thomas: As fans waited for the UFC Vegas 53 card to begin, Din Thomas opined from the analyst desk that perhaps Rob Font should get a break for coming in at 138.5 pounds for a bantamweight main event fight. Michael Chiesa, who was also working the desk, seemed to agree with him.
Font should not get a break. Weight cutting should be done away with, but that’s a different argument. Font, who is the No. 5 ranked fighter in the official UFC bantamweight rankings, has been competing at 135 pounds since July 2014. Font and his team know how to hit the 136-pound limit for a non-title fight and he signed the contract to compete at that weight.
A professional fighter’s most important job before fight night is to make weight. So no, Font shouldn’t get a break for missing weight, especially considering the importance and the placement of this fight on the card. The only person who should be praised here is Marlon Vera who agreed to the fight after Font came in heavy.