Marlon ‘Chito’ Vera produced one of the best finishes in 2022 as his brutal head kick caught Dominick Cruz flush on the face en route to a KO victory.
With a bantamweight title shot within touching distance for both men, there was plenty on the line at UFC San Diego.
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Cruz, who is a two-time UFC bantamweight champion himself, entered the fight on the back of two wins while Vera was on a three-fight win streak.
The 37-year-old showed off his veteran nous early with his trademark style of awkward movement as Vera tried to implement his game plan to little avail.
However, the Ecuadorean landed major strikes that dropped Cruz, although the former champ almost always hopped back to his feet and exploded with a flurry of punches of his own.
Going into the third round, several fight fans had Cruz ahead on their scorecards.
But those would be quickly torn up and tossed out the window going into the fourth round.
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Having dropped Cruz a whopping three times already, Vera looked like he had finally worked out his man.
He threw a right hand that Cruz bent down to his right to avoid.
But Vera had anticipated that movement and unleashed a left kick that smacked Cruz straight on the face and sent him to the canvas.
Vera landed two more punches before referee Herb Dean stepped in to wave off the contest as Cruz was knocked out cold with blood pouring from his broken nose.
Cruz looked dazed and confused as he rose to his feet but thankfully was ok as Vera celebrated and spoke with UFC president Dana White who was sitting cage-side.
It was a finish that will no doubt earn Vera a handy bonus as he inches closer to a bantamweight title fight.
Inevitably, social media was buzzing with fans who couldn’t believe what had just happened.