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UFC on ESPN 41: Marlon Vera connects on head kick to stun Dominick Cruz

Marlon Vera punched his ticket into the bantamweight title conversation at UFC on ESPN 41 Saturday night at The Apex.

Vera overcame a gritty performance from former champion Dominick Cruz to score a perfectly timed headlock in the fourth round of a back and forth contest in the main event.

Cruz (24-4-0), 37, normally a careful and crafty counterpuncher, came out aggressive which Vera (20-7-1), 29, took advantage of, dropping Cruz in the first round with a left hand strike. Vera did the same in the third round, but both times, Cruz got back up and scored with shots to the head and body and even dropped Vera in the fourth round with a right hand after blocking a Vera kick.

But finally, Cruz got caught changing levels with a perfectly timed and placed headlock that sent him crashing to the canvas. Follow up strikes forced referee Herb Dean to call the contest at 2:17 of the fourth round.

The win was the fourth straight for the No. 5 Vera and gives some weight in the title shot conversation. The loss snapped the two fight win streak of the No. 8 Cruz and while it was a good performance from the future Hall of Famer, one wonders if he will give it another run.

Nate Landwehr and David Onana earned Fight of the Night, while Tyson Nam and Vera earned performances of the night. Each fighter earned a $50,000 USD bonus.

Kenai Andrews checks in with his thoughts on the main card.

In case you missed the prelims:

YOUSSEF ZALAL VS. DA’MON BLACKSHEAR MAJORITY DRAW (28-29, 28-28, 28-28)

JOSH QUINLAN DEF. JASON WITT VIA TKO (PUNCH) R1 2:09

TYSON NAM DEF. ODE’ OSBOURNE VIA TKO (PUNCHES) R1 2:59

GABRIEL BENITEZ DEF. CHARLIE ONTIVEROS VIA TKO (PUNCHES) R1 3:35

NINA NUNES DEF. CYNTHIA CALVILLO VIA SD (28-29, 29-28, 30-27)

MARTIN BUDAY DEF. LUKASZ BRZESKI VIA SD (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)

ANGELA HILL DEF. LUPITA GODINEZ VIA UD (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)

MAIN CARD 

GERALD MEERSCHAERT VS. BRUNO SILVA

WINNER: GERALD MEERSCHAERT VIA SUBMISSION (GUILLOTINE CHOKE) R3 1:39

ANDREWS PREDICTION: BRUNO SILVA VIA TKO

Andrews: Hats off to Gerald, who got the fight to the ground before Bruno could use the equalizer.

PRISCILLA CACHOEIRA VS. ARIANE LIPSKI

WINNER: PRISCILLA CACHOEIRA VIA TKO (PUNCHES) R1 1:05

ANDREWS PREDICTION: ARIANE LIPSKI VIA UD

Andrews: Out in just over a minute? Great win for Priscilla but I wonder if Ariane was 100 per cent.

DEVIN CLARK VS. AZAMAT MURZAKANOV 

WINNER: AZAMAT MURZAKANOV VIA TKO (PUNCHES) R3 1:18

ANDREWS PREDICTION: AZAMAT MURZKANOV VIA TKO

Andrews: Clark almost made it but Azamat was too good.

YAZMIN JAURGEUI VS. LASMIN LUCINDO 

WINNER: YAZMIN JAURGEUI VIA UD (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)

ANDREWS PREDICTION: YAZMIN JAURGEUI VIA TKO

Andrews: Amazing performance by Yazmin.

NATE LANDWEHR VS. DAVID ONANA 

WINNER: NATE LANDWEHR VIA MD (28-28, 29-27, 29-27)

ANDREWS PREDICTION: DAVID ONANA VIA UD

Andrews: Nate was great.

MAIN EVENT

#5 MARLON VERA VS. #8 DOMINICK CRUZ 

WINNER: MARLON VERA VIA TKO (HEADKICK) R4 2:17

ANDREWS PREDICTION: MARLON VERA VIA UD 

Andrews: Wow! Marlon overcame Cruz and finished him with the amazing headlock. Vera came through again.

The next UFC event is UFC 278, which is scheduled for Aug. 20 at the Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City, Utah. Welterweight champion Kamaru Usman defends against U.K. challenger Leon Edwards in the main event.

@kenaiandrews

KenaiAndrews
KenaiAndrewshttps://www.mmacrossfire.com
Kenai is a former Postmedia Network online news and sports editor. He is the Editor-in-Chief for MMA Crossfire.

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