Marlon Vera’s Daughter Is All Smiles These Days, Thanks to a Fan-Funded Surgery

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Apr. 30 2022, Published 12:40 p.m. ET

UFC fighter Marlon Vera said he’s “a hundred percent ready” for his bout against Rob Font tonight, Saturday, April 30, at UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Vera’s first time headlining a UFC event. And it only helps that Vera has his wife’s support, as he said in a new interview.

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“Every time I get a big opportunity, it makes sense to me and makes sense to my family,” he added, talking to UFC.com last week ahead of his moment in the UFC Fight Night spotlight. “Every single moment I sacrificed, whenever I didn’t show up because I had to be ready for a fight, these pay off. You can only do that through work, having a good wife behind you and a good team around you.”

Here’s more about Vera’s wife and kids.

Marlon is married to Maria Paulina Escobar.

As he told Yahoo! Sports last week, Marlon had to leave wife Maria Paulina Escobar and their children in Ecuador to follow his MMA dreams in the United States, but he sent every spare cent to his family back home as his career progressed.

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“When I left my house, I didn’t have more than six grand … [I told my wife] my family will support you. Your family will support you. But if I stay here, we’re going nowhere,” he recounted. “A good wife means so much. A bad woman can drag you down, but a good woman will take you a long way. She was able to stay with our two kids by herself and just wait for me.”

The couple has three kids.

According to El Comercio, Marlon has three kids: Ana Paula, José Ignacio, and Eliana. They had their eldest, Ana Paula, when Marlon was 18 and Maria was 17, as Marlon told MMA Fighting in 2016. “She was a year younger than me, but my wife has been a huge pillar in my career,” he told the site. “She’s one of those women that are born to be a mother, that are born to be a wife. … Not everyone is lucky to have a great woman beside them.”

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Ana Paula is living with Moebius syndrome, a neurological condition that affects the musculature behind facial expression and eye movements. In 2018, Ana Paula underwent a 10-hour surgery that finally gave her the ability to smile. And a GoFundMe campaign contributed more than $19,000 to the cost of the operation.

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“It’s truly incredible, and it’s something that has brought me a lot of satisfaction,” Marlon told MMA Fighting in 2018, reflecting the fans’ donations. “It has helped me become a better person, it’s helped me see the good side of the world.”

The UFC star also said that seeing Ana Paula smile would be “the best thing that’s ever happened” in his life. “It was a goal of mine and a goal of my wife’s, my son’s too, who wants to see his sister smile, so it was a family goal,” he added. “It’s something you achieve with infinite effort and always having faith, never giving up.”

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