UFC Vegas 17 live blog: Jose Aldo vs. Marlon Vera

This is the UFC Vegas 17 live blog for Jose Aldo vs. Marlon Vera, the bantamweight co-headliner for Saturday’s fight card at UFC APEX in Las Vegas.

Aldo makes his third appearance at 135 pounds after a skid at featherweight, the division he long reigned. The ex-champ has lost his past three bouts, most recently via stoppage in a fight for the vacant belt against current champ Petr Yan.

Vera returns after stopping the hype train of Sean O’Malley in an impressive showing in August at UFC 252.

Round 1: Vera leads the dance with a few front kicks. Aldo paws with his jab, moving his head as Vera continues to kick low. Aldo tries to go over the top with his right and he’s just a bit short. Vera continues low kicks, and another big Aldo punch prompts Vera to close quick and tie up against the fence. Knees in close, and the action slows. Aldo slaps the ear and hits the body. Vera continues to work knees and control with the head. Aldo turns and tries to push off the fence. Aldo finally turns and pushes off. More kicks from Vera, and Aldo rips the body. He’s backing up Vera, and another big body shot lands. Vera resets and goes back to kicks. Aldo intercepting with his hands and goes straight to the body again. Patented leg kicks from the ex-champ. Vera front kick to the knee, and Aldo misses to the body. Another charge, and this time Vera can’t keep Aldo against the cage. Another body shot from Aldo. Head kick met by two-piece from Aldo, and Vera’s return kicks are short.

MMA Fighting scores the frame 10-9 Aldo.

Round 2: Vera closes and starts his kick attack. Another body shot combo from Aldo. That’s the target with most success for ex-champ, while Vera continues to snipe at the legs. Nice counter hook from Aldo in the pocket, and Vera’s pressure draws another nice counter. Vera is standing close enough for Aldo to get to Vera with his punches before he gets a reaction. Vera goes back to the legs and closes in. Vera shoves him off, and Aldo goes same. Vera with nice outside leg kick. Aldo winds up on a big uppercut that’s blocked. Another pair of body shots from Aldo, and another. Backfist from Vera catches Aldo off guard, and he drives in to the fence. Knees in close, and Aldo extends a knee to prevent the transition. Outside trip fails for Vera, and Aldo fires back with knees in the plumb. Back to kicks, and Vera lands a nice left hook. Pace increasing, but Vera presses back in for the takedown. Work in close from Vera using knees and short punches. Aldo hanging on and tries to turn out, but Vera reasserts control and goes back to knees. Short elbow for Vera in clinch ends the frame.

MMA Fighting scores the frame 10-9 for Vera, and it’s tied 19 all.

Round 3: Vera charges in again, and Aldo gets to the back and hooks a leg in transition. Body lock takedown isn’t there, and Vera tries the kimura reverse. Aldo hops on the back, but he’s high and is going to get bucked. Pause as Vera shakes and waits for gravity to take effect. Leg out fails for Vera, and Aldo is still on the back. Vera accepts back control, and Aldo locks the body triangle. Choke setup, and Vera fights the hands. Worst case scenario for Vera if he can’t break this position. Cage walk from Vera using one leg, and Aldo tries to disincentivize the move. Vera turns and almost is forced to switch position, but Aldo adjusts and keeps back control. Vera punches backward, and the action slows. Vera walks the other direction with one leg, and this time, his weight is on the triangle foot, and Aldo has to take the back. Vera stands up, and Aldo is on his back. Vera tries to jam him into the fence, then uses the cage to rake Aldo’s toes across cage. Gravity not helping Vera as much as it should, and he pitches to the canvas. Still can’t escape, and Aldo almost has the neck wrapped. Position not there, so he’s forced to punch backward as Aldo tries to crank. Vera sits again and uses the arm the right way to escape. No dice, and a turn ends with the two almost facing each other, rabbit punching

MMA Fighting scores the frame 10-9 for Aldo, who takes the 29-28 decision.

OFFICIAL RESULT: Jose Aldo def. Marlon Vera via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)