Marlon Vera is no longer fighting Sean O’Malley, but that’s okay with the Ecuadorian fighter.
The 26-year-old bantamweight was originally scheduled to meet prospect O’Malley at Saturday’s UFC 239 card in Las Vegas, Nev., but due to USADA complications, O’Malley was removed from the card by the Nevada State Athletic Commission just two weeks out from the fight – after banned substances resurfaced in a recent in-competition drug test.
With the proximity of the card being very close, the risk of not finding a replacement opponent lingered.
“I was told (about O’Malley’s withdrawal), but I wasn’t given any options and nothing was clear. I didn’t know if I was going to fight or not,” Vera told MMA Fighting.
The UFC matchmakers were able to find ‘Chito’ a replacement opponent and finalize the bout the week of the card. Vera will be welcoming newcomer Nohelin Hernandez, a 25-year-old AKA product who’s unbeaten in his last four professional MMA bouts.
“Since it was a week, I stayed patient and they [UFC] gave me a call on Thursday [June, 27] and they told me that it was against him, so at least I got a fight.” Vera said. “I had no problem taking it short notice. That doesn’t affect me at all. A fight is a fight, and at least I’m fighting, the rest doesn’t matter.”
Despite going from a popular name such as O’Malley to a fairly unknown fighter in Hernandez, Vera was not bothered by ‘Sugar’s’ withdrawal from the fight and he’s not really going to stress over trying to get that booking again.
“To be honest, I don’t care, I don’t look for anyone, so if it happens, it happens,” Vera explained. “It would’ve bothered me if I would’ve been left without a fight, but whatever happens in his personal life has nothing to do with me.”
As far as the fight itself, Vera wasn’t forced to change much in his game plan. He believes both O’Malley and Hernandez present similar challenges.
“He’s a good striker and has wrestling, so there are some changes, but it’s nothing crazy like fighting a pure wrestler,” Vera said. “So I’m going to go out there and fight, give a good performance and try to win it.
“I saw his last fights, I studied him, so I’m not going to get cocky. I’m going to go out there and fight, just like any other fight in this world. Anyone can win or lose, so I’m not sleeping on him, I’m going out with everything so nothing changes on my end.
“I’m going to go out there to finish him. I’m going to fight my hardest and do everything in my power to win, do my job like always.”