Chito Vera has become a fan favorite fighter for the UFC’s bantamweight division in recent years. He started his career with the UFC at the ripe old age of 19 and has been exciting ever since. But Vera’s popularity didn’t come to fruition until later in his career and coincides with the late career resurgence he’s experienced since 2018.
Since his back to back losses to John Lineker and Douglas Silva de Andrade, Vera has been on a 10-3 run with wins over the likes of Sean O’Malley, Frankie Edgar and Dominick Cruz. But he’s not been invincible. Vera’s managed to drop the two most important fights of his career. Both Jose Aldo and Cory Sandhagen stonewalled Vera and drowned him with volume and appreciable defense giving Vera no opportunity to land a big shot to keep himself in the fight.
Beating Chito Vera: Volume, Volume, and More Volume
When looking at the fights with Aldo and Sandhagen, it was the forward momentum, feints, and striking volume and variety that kept Vera frozen and unable to land offense of his own.
But simply throwing off a lot of punches at Vera isn’t the way to beat him. Just ask Rob Font. Every round in their fight consisted of Font bringing forward all the volume he could muster and Vera getting out landed. But Vera always found a way to land a big shot because Font stayed on the center line and was there to get hit. With Aldo and Sandhagen, staying off the center line was a priority.
Also, throwing feints at Vera for the sake of volume doesn’t work, as is the case with Sean O’Malley. O’Malley is a great striker with tons of craftiness up his sleeve. The issue with Suga Sean O’Malley was that he didn’t press forward. He let Vera come to him as he was looking to counter off the wild and less technical strikes. This allowed Vera to land those low kicks that ultimately led to O’Malley’s demise.
Now that we know the foundation blocks of beating Chito Vera, it’s time to look at the type of offense required to take him on.
Make no mistake about it, Jose Aldo and Cory Sandhagen are completely different types of strikers. Aldo is more tactful and counter-minded. Sandhagen wants to drown you in volume. But when it came to Vera the two found common ground.
To finish off this video, I want to look at a moment a piece from both Jose Aldo and Cory Sandhagen and how they utilized feints, head movement, and countering to best Vera.
Jose Aldo: Motion
Jose Aldo was a master at range throughout his entire career. Perfecting the pivot and takedown defense for MMA, his near-decade long reign in WEC/the UFC cemented him as one of the best ever. After moving down to bantamweight, Aldo retained much of what made him great and, as is the purpose of our video, put him on a collision course with Chito Vera.
Aldo likes exchanges when his opponents come in the pocket. There he will slip, dip and weave his way into big shots that brutalize his foes. He did just that with Vera all fight. The specific clip we are looking at is at the start of round two.
Vera tries to enter the pocket with a straight kick to the knee. Jose Aldo being so good at seeing kicks coming pivots his lead leg just out the way, causing Vera to miss and get himself out of position. Aldo then comes with a right hook up the middle that has Vera cover up and turn his face and body away from Jose Aldo. This, you’ll see, opens up the right side of his body, providing a path for the left hook, one of Aldo’s favorite punches.
With Aldo being Aldo, he sees it and smashes the body with a huge left hook. Vera is quite the athlete and sees it coming and tries to drop the elbow to block it. But Aldo is a hair faster and it lands home. But with the dropping of the elbow, Vera has opened up the right up top that, again, Aldo sees and tries to exploit.
Jose Aldo was an expert at punishing people for getting out of position and did this to Chito Vera all fight. It was pretty much a shutout and Aldo came away with the victory.
Cory Sandhagen: Leading the Dance
What Cory Sandhagen does different from Aldo is his insistence to lead the dance against Vera. He and his team have assuredly watched the Aldo tape and took some pointers from that fight and it shows during the fight. Sandhagen mixed in wrestling to even further complicate things for Chito Vera.
After a couple takedowns, Sandhagen started to get off on Vera and really do what he does best.
(1) Sandhagen started out by coming forward in the third round against Vera. After the first to takedowns in the fight, Vera was antsy and felt like it was paramount to get some respect back and get some damage in on Sandhagen to win some rounds back.
(2) Vera is drawn into a jab from Sandhagen’s advancement and Sandhagen counters with a right cross of his own over the top. Instead of turning away like he did with Aldo, (3) Upon loading up the lead left hook and cross from earlier, Sandhagen’s head is moved off the center line and avoids the impending blow.
(4) With the body shot landed, Vera drops those elbows again, just as he did with Jose Aldo. It’s there that the right cross is opened up again for Cory Sandhagen and lands clean.
As fun of a fighter that Chito Vera is, he’s far from perfect. He struggles with technical fighters who tend to see what he has coming for them. Sandhagen and Aldo are the two best by far that he’s faced. This is just a testament of how good both Sandhagen and Aldo are as standup fighters.