Marlon Vera’s next performance will have the MMA world looking closely.

The Ecuadorian fighter will be competing in the co-main event of UFC 252 on Saturday night in Las Vegas, which is being headline by a heavyweight trilogy bout between champion Stipe Miocic and Daniel Cormier. And of top of getting co-main event billing on a pay-per-view card, Vera (15-6-1 MMA, 9-5 UFC) takes on Sean O’Malley (12-0 MMA, 4-0 UFC) – one of the most popular fighters today in the sport.

Vera is eager to get in the cage and fight O’Malley and sees it as a great opportunity to boost himself up in the rankings.

“This is a fight that puts me close to the top five,” Vera said in Spanish on Monday’s episode of “Hablemos MMA.” “We’ve seen fighters like Cody Garbrandt, who are coming off three defeats, beat someone who’s basically outside of the rankings like (Raphael) Assuncao, knocks him out, and gets in the top three above Pedro Munhoz, who knocked him out.

“So the rankings make no sense. But since this is a popularity contest, I beat the brat, and they have to put me in the top, so good for me.”

Vera is in one of his best career moments, standing at 5-1 in his past six outings, with the lone loss being a controversial decision defeat to Song Yadong in May.

“Chito” is glad to be getting a big fight despite having come up short in his previous bout.

“They’re treating me like if I were coming off a win,” Vera said. “I’m fighting co-main event with someone who’s in the rankings, so obviously it was a robbery of a defeat. It still sets you a few steps down, but what the UFC is giving me is if I were coming off a victory. So I’m happy, and I’m going to recover what was taken from me last time.”

O’Malley has been beefing online with other fighter in the buildup to UFC 252. Vera said he doesn’t care if “Sugar” is underestimating him and finds it silly that top-ranked fighters are engaging with responding to O’Malley comments.

“I couldn’t give a sh-t if he’s underestimating me or not,” Vera said. “I don’t care what he thinks or does. What does matter is that Saturday, he’s going to have me in front of him and not those idiots that are replying to him, giving him fame and credibility.

“If I’m on top, why am I going to be trash-talking someone below me? It doesn’t have logic. The champion, himself, is replying to him. People need to use their brain a little more, but it seems they’re stupid because if I’m the champion and someone if the top-15 is talking sh-t, I’m obviously going to keep an eye on him and be ready for him, but I’m not going to be replying to someone who’s far from fighting for the title. But to each to their own. Thanks to them for making this fight bigger for me.”