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UFC San Antonio: Vera vs Sandhagen - Mar 25 🇺🇸


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Off to San Antonio, Texas with this lot…


Marlon Vera vs Cory Sandhagen 

Holly Holm vs Yana Santos

Nate Landwehr vs Austin Lingo 

Andrea Lee vs Maycee Barber

Chidi Njokuani vs Albert Duraev 

Daniel Pineda vs Tucker Lutz 

Steven Peterson vs Lucas Alexander 

Trevin Giles vs Preston Parsons 

CJ Vergara vs Daniel Da Silva 

Vinicius Salvador vs Victor Altamirano 


I don’t think that’s the official bout order, as usual I’ve just gone off how Marcel Dorff has it but I’ll update it as and when the shuffling, dropouts and substitutes start. Like the Yan vs Dvalishvili card, I really like this. Obviously the main event is a banger. That always helps. There’s some shite I could’ve done without on there (I’m looking at you Holly Holm) but there’s enough about the overall card that I’m really looking forward to it. Michel Pereira was supposed to fight Sean Brady, not sure if Pereira’s staying on the card but it’s looking less likely as this one draws near. Good stuff though, and at least there’ll be a crowd!



Marlon Vera vs Cory Sandhagen is a cracking main event. It’s the kind of fight that would look right at home on a PPV main card but I’m glad it’s headlining here because these two deserve the spotlight. Plus this way we get 5 rounds instead of 3! Really can’t go wrong with this can you? I don’t recall either ever being involved in a bad or boring fight. Can’t see why that would start now with them matched against each other. Looking at the current rankings on the UFC’s website, Vera is ranked #4 at the moment and Sandhagen is at #5. So they’re right there in and about the title picture and whoever wins this could theoretically be next in line or at least in a number one contenders fight next. Once you get in that Top 5, you’re right there. You might be the only fresh challenger or someone gets hurt and, bam, you get the call to fight for the belt. And these guys have been right on the cusp of that for a while now so there are some pretty high stakes here.


Marlon ‘Chito’ Vera has become easily one of the most popular fighters in the Bantamweight division over the last couple of years. I admit it’s taken me a while to get on board. Nothing to do with his fighting, I’ve always enjoyed his fights. But he’s had his moments where he’s came off as a bit of a prick and I never warmed to him. He’s slowly been winning me around though. And as far as in the cage goes, he’s in the best form of his career right now. He’s just turned 30 in December, his record stands at 20-7-1 with 16 finishes and he’s won 10 of his last 12 fights. And in that period, the only losses were decisions to Song Yadong (which a lot of people had Chito winning) and Jose Aldo. As for his wins, he’s still the only man to hand Sean O’Malley a loss, he TKO’d him in a round in 2020. His last 4 fights have been fantastic as well and have really put him on the map. He beat Davey Grant on points in a proper banger, knocked Frankie Edgar out with a gnarly front kick to the gob and battered and lumped up Rob Font en route to a decision. Then in his last fight in August, he took on a Bantamweight legend and arguably the 135 GOAT in Dominick Cruz.


He knocked Cruz out in the 4th round in what, for me, was the biggest and best win of Chito’s career to date. The Edgar win was a great scalp as well but there was always that overwhelming feeling that Edgar was shot to bits hanging over that one. Cruz isn’t at the peak of his powers, he’s lost half a step or so but he’s far from shot and he was looking good for big spells in that fight. In the end though, Vera’s power caught up with him and that was that. Big win for him and that’s 4 impressive victories in a row. And he got either FOTN or POTN bonuses for all 4 fights as well. Easy to see why his fanbase has been expanding lately.


Cory ‘The Sandman’ Sandhagen isn’t gonna be an easy night’s work though. He’s 15-4 with 10 finishes and hasn’t been on a run quite like Vera has recently, but he’s a quality fighter and has been threatening to break into the title mix for some time. Closest he’s got so far was his interim title shot against Petr Yan back in 2021. He lost on points but it was such an awesome fight and his stock didn’t really drop much coming off that one. His other notable losses were a somewhat controversial decision loss to TJ Dillashaw which many felt Sandhagen won. And then there was the night current champ Aljo Sterling breezed through and submitted him in about 90 seconds in 2020. Aside from those setbacks, Sandhagen beat John Lineker and Raphael Assuncao on the way up. He stopped Marlon Moraes, absolutely murdered poor Frankie Edgar with a horrific flying knee KO and in his most recent fight in September, he stopped Song Yadong on cuts in a really good scrap.


Love this matchup! I’m always bumming the Bantamweight division, it might be my favourite weight class these days and these two have been a big part of the reason why that’s become the case. Not really sure how this goes. I’m guessing most will instantly pick Chito because his overall resume is stronger and he’s had more recent highlight reel worthy and dramatic big wins. But I’m not sure. There’s something about how Vera fights that always makes me doubt him. Don’t get me wrong, he’s great to watch. But he does seem to rely a bit too much on his power and his ability to find the finish or damaging round stealing shots. It’s been working for him lately but it’s gonna cost him a crucial decision or something at some point. We saw it in the Font and Cruz fights where he’d just hang back and wait for his moment and eventually he did find the fight changing strikes. But in the meantime, you’re letting time and rounds slip by and what if that big strike just doesn’t come? Sandhagen has the kind of striking game where I could see a scenario where Vera just doesn’t quite find the big moment and Sandhagen takes the decision. Then again I could just as easily see Vera catching him. Fuck knows? I’m about 50/50 on it. Sandhagen has never been knocked out though and he’s been the distance with the likes of Yan and Lineker and ate their shots. He’s not gonna be easy to put away so hopefully Chito’s got more up his sleeve than just expecting the KO or knockdown shots to land in his lap. Whatever happens it’s gonna be some fight this, isn’t it? You just know it’s gonna be a proper battle. With Yan vs Merab going down just 2 weeks before, we’ve got a brilliant little mini tournament going on here. Then you’ve got the rumoured Aljo vs Cejudo title fight plus O’Malley waiting in the wings. Very exciting and interesting times ahead at 135!



Holly Holm vs Yana Santos is doing sod all for me. Nothing. Zero. I’m just thankful it’s not the main event! Hopefully they’ve finally realised Holm headliners are absolutely rotten and they’ll never subject us to that again. Not holding my breath but we can hope. Holm is 41 years old now and she’s had a long old fighting career. Former UFC champ and she’s always gonna be remembered as the one who brought the reign of Ronda Rousey to a crashing halt. But let’s be honest, that was 8 years ago now and she’s done nothing of note since. I know I sound harsh. Nothing even against the woman. But I don’t recall her looking good in years. Maybe the valiant losing effort against Cyborg was the last time I enjoyed a performance from her. That was 2017. She comes into this fight off a split decision loss to Ketlen Vieira in another 5 round main event in May. Awful fight and I thought she looked crap. Vieira didn’t look great herself, she won on account of being a bit less shite. Just done with Holm. Which is why I’m rooting for Santos here. Maybe another loss will convince Holm to pack it in. Maybe. We last saw Yana Santos when she was still Yana Kunitskaya. She lost to Irene Aldana on the Poirier vs McGregor 3 undercard in July 2021. Her and Thiago Santos have been an item for a while, finally got married and recently had a baby girl.


Lovely stuff. Every time I see a picture of them they couldn’t look happier. Chuffed for Thiago, he’s always seemed like one of the real good guys in MMA. And that’s an ever dwindling number. I’ve never rated Yana though. She seems nice enough but she’s been completely forgettable in the cage and the results haven’t been the best either. She’s 14-6-0-1 now. I’ve seen a bunch of her fights and still couldn’t tell you much about her. Just not a lot stands out. I hope she wins though. To hopefully spare us of more Holm and I’d like to see her and Thiago do well and maximise their coin before they both call it a day. I see Yana’s Wikipedia page has her listed as training at Jackson-Wink, which is odd as Holm is obviously a mainstay there. No doubt Yana’s gone elsewhere this time but they must’ve trained together previously.



Nate Landwehr vs Austin Lingo is ***WAND’S ONE TO WATCH*** here. Was originally Landwehr against Alex ‘Bruce Leroy’ Caceres and I was gutted when Caceres pulled out. This just isn’t the same but it’s not a bad replacement at all and remains my ‘one to watch’. 


🤣 Mad bastard. ‘Nate The Train’ has had patchy results in the UFC but he’s also wildly entertaining to watch. He won a decision off David Onama in his last fight in August and it was genuinely one of my favourite fights of last year. It got FOTN at the time but was largely forgotten after. It was the bollocks though. If you missed it, fix that immediately. As for Lingo, he’s not as well known as Caceres but he’s actually a really solid substitute. I’ve really enjoyed the couple of his fights I’ve seen so far. The Jacob Kilburn fight in 2021 especially is a real hidden gem. He followed that up with a points win over Luis Saldana but he’s been inactive now since August 2021. But yeah, this should be a cracking fight. 



Andrea Lee vs Maycee Barber is nothing to write home about. I don’t hate it but I’m not into it either. Mostly down to my apathy towards Lee, to be honest. Just never thought she was much good. She’s 34 years old with a 13-6 record. Best wins being stoppages over Antonina Shevchenko and Cynthia Calvillo. That’s about her peak. She lost on points against Viviane Araujo last May and hasn’t been seen since. Barber’s a bit better but, still, nothing special. I’ve seen her talked up a few times as if she’s some big time prospect but I’m not on board really. I think a lot of that talk was just because she was so young when she signed with the UFC. She’s still only 24 now. Who knows, maybe she’ll suddenly go on a rampage but I don’t see it myself. She’s 11-2 coming off 3 wins over Miranda Maverick, Montana De La Rosa and Jessica Eye. I’m not convinced by her but I think she’s got enough about her to beat Lee anyway.



Chidi Njokuani vs Albert Duraev is currently slated to open up the main card. If it stays in that spot it’s pretty much perfect card placement, I reckon. Njokuani is tailor made to kick off a main card with a bang. He’s coming off that mental scrap with Gregory Rodrigues in September. You know the one…


Chidi put a third eye in Robocop Greg’s head. Vile stuff. That would’ve spelled the end for a lot of guys but Rodrigues is just the right mix of being tough and being a lunatic that it only seemed to fire him up more and he put Chidi away shortly after. Hoping Chidi can rebound in style here. He looked good his first couple of fights in the UFC and seems a likeable chap. I’m hazy on Duraev though. He’s 15-4 with 12 finishes and has fought a few recognisable names. Fought mostly in M-1 and ACA before getting in the UFC through DWCS. Beat Roman Kopylov on points but I don’t remember that fight. I do remember his last fight in June though, and he took a bit of a hiding off Joaquin Buckley.



Daniel Pineda vs Tucker Lutz. Dunno. Pineda has had about as hot and cold a career as you can get. He’s 27-14-0-3 and in his last 3 fights he 1) beat Herbert Burns by TKO in a really strong showing, 2) then got sparked by old Cub Swanson, 3) had a No Contest with Andre Fili after suffering an eye poke. He’s bounced around different promotions and had all kinds of mixed results and, at 37 years old now, he’s obviously not about to go on some Goldberg winning streak. And Lutz I don’t remember at all. He’s 12-2 with 8 finishes. Lost a decision to Pat Sabatini in his last fight but that was 2021. He sat out all of 2022.



Steven Peterson vs Lucas Alexander might be worth a look. Peterson is one of those fighters, in a similar vein to Caceres, who’s fallen into that journeyman role and loses nearly as much as he wins, but he’s usually consistently fun to watch. He hasn’t fought in just over a year now but his last fight was a real forgotten gem from 2022. He lost a split decision to Julian Erosa in a FOTN winning barnburner. Before that he beat Chase Hooper. Before that he hit Martin Bravo with a spinning backfist that almost beheaded him.


Just completely wiped him the fuck out. He’s 19-10 overall as I type this and going nowhere in his career but I hope they keep him around and I hope he at least cleans up on bonuses before it’s all over. Alexander is 7-3 with 3 knockouts. Only thing I’ve seen of him was his UFC debut in October and he got subbed by Joanderson Brito in 2 minutes. So not much to go on but hopefully Peterson can drag something out of him.



Trevin Giles vs Preston Parsons is just there filling a spot on the card. Nothing particularly wrong with it but it really is just…there. Giles was born in San Antonio though so if nothing else the crowd should be invested in it. That makes it more entertaining sometimes. Giles does actually have some good wins dotted about on his record, to be fair. He submitted Brendan Allen on a Legacy FC card in 2016. He beat Ryan Spann on a LFA show in 2017. And he’s beaten James Krause and Roman Dolidze in the UFC. Not too shabby at all. But when you look at his record as a whole, those wins are surrounded by stoppage losses. He’s 15-4 overall and he was finished in all 4 losses. Parsons is 10-3 with 9 submissions. Suffered a TKO loss at the hands of Daniel Rodriguez in his UFC debut but I think he jumped in on late notice for that one. He’s since bounced back with a decision win over Evan Elder.



CJ Vergara vs Daniel Da Silva. Not bad for a prelim. Vergara’s no great shakes really but he did take a split decision off Kleydson Rodrigues, who I quite like, last year. He got schooled and armbarred by unbeaten Japanese prospect Tatsuro Taira in his last fight though. He’s 10-4-1 now. Da Silva might make this worth a gander. He’s a Chute Boxe guy (yes!) and a teammate of Charles Oliveira. 11-4 record with all 11 wins coming inside the distance and a nice mix of knockout and submission finishes. He is coming into this fight off 3 straight losses though. Exciting to watch but getting that W is critical here if he wants to stick around. And I want him to stick around.



Vinicius Salvador vs Victor Altamirano. Not that familiar with either of these two but it doesn’t sound like a bad fight on paper. The Flyweights rarely disappoint. This’ll be Salvador’s UFC debut after scoring a TKO win over Shannon Ross on DWCS back in August. He’s Brazilian, 26 years old and has a 14-4 record with 14 finishes, 13 by knockout or TKO. Altamirano is Mexican-American, 32 years old and 11-2 with 6 finishes. He’s fought in the UFC twice now. Dropped a split decision to Carlos Hernandez in his debut last February but rebounded with a first round TKO victory over Daniel Da Silva in August. That was on the Usman vs Edwards 2 undercard and I remember thinking Altamirano looked fantastic in that one after an iffy debut.


Chito vs Sandman then. 


Edited by wandshogun09
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Another great write up@wandshogun09

Solid card, only draw back is I don’t want to see Chito or Sandman lose, fan of both fighters. As you said, Bantamweight is stacked and easily one of the best divisions. So many interesting match ups to make and it’s so hard to pick winners between the top guys!

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1 hour ago, Egg Shen said:

early start on this one tomorrow, 8pm prelims.

We are being spoilt with all these early start times! 

No votes for Sandhagen in the poll! Given current form I think Chito gets a late stoppage but can’t see it being all one way traffic. 

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Just read that the UFC have signed Holly Holm to a new contract for SIX MORE FIGHTS! Yes, 41 year old Holly Holm who’s coming off a loss and hasn’t had a good fight in years. I don’t begrudge anyone a job but fucking hell. She’s definitely got dirt on someone. No doubt at least 4 of those 6 fights will be Apex main events as well. 


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Buzzing for this now it’s nearly here.


Really not sure how I see it going. I’m guessing most are gonna be favouring Chito and he is on a hell of a run at the moment. But like I said in the opening post, he does have a tendency to let 4 minutes of a round slip by before turning up the violence at the end and nicking rounds. It’s worked out well for him so far but he can’t afford to be letting someone like Sandhagen get in a rhythm and build up momentum. And don’t let Sandhagen’s recent losses fool you. He isn’t on the win streak Chito is but he’s been mixing at a little bit of a higher level. Over the last 5 or 6 years he’s only lost to Sterling, Yan and Dillashaw. And the decision in the Dillashaw fight was debatable. Chito’s looked good but I think Sandhagen is a step up from a fading Cruz and a shot Edgar. And if Chito had faced Aljo and Yan he might’ve lost those fights as well. So I wouldn’t read too much into who’s strung the most consecutive wins together recently. This is a tough one for both. I’m struggling to pick a winner but I’m kind of leaning towards Sandhagen. Should be a fantastic fight whatever happens.

Here’s the latest, and hopefully final, bout order;


We’ve already had a couple of fights cancelled in the last couple of days. Nothing to be too disappointed about. It was only Manuel Torres vs Trey Ogden and Tamires Vidal vs Hailey Cowan. I can take the hit on losing those fights. Half wishing the Holm fight would get binned as well, to be honest. But hopefully the rest stays intact. Main event is ace, of course. But Landwehr vs Lingo, Perez vs Kape and Chidi vs Duraev should be worth a look as well. Couple of the prelims could be decent as well. It’s actually a sneaky good card overall, I reckon, but Holm will no doubt do her best to drag it down a notch. 

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And even the day of the show sometimes! It seemed to really increase during the COVID mayhem in 2020 and it’s just carried on from there. I don’t remember the last minute pullouts being quite as frequent before that. 

Remember when that Jon Jones vs Dan Henderson fight got scrapped years ago and they cancelled the whole card? That felt like a massive deal at the time and everyone was going on like it was the end of the world. Now they’ll announce a main event is off during the show itself, like after the third prelim or something, and we all just shrug and go “that’s MMA for ya”. Even just in the last 6 months we’ve had 2 main events (OK only Apex ones but still…) get binned while the show is going on - Lewis vs Spivac in November and Krylov vs Spann in February. The most crazy has still gotta be that Chas Skelly fight a year or two ago (can’t be arsed to check who the opponent was) when the fight got scrapped while Skelly was standing in the cage waiting for the opponent! Fucking bonkers.

It’s mad how it’s become just an accepted part of what happens in the sport now. It never used to happen at all. I guess it’s actually a good thing in a weird way, it shows the medical staff are more on the ball and cautious these days about letting fighters go in the cage with medical issues or after a particularly rough weight cut. But you can almost set your watch to it at this point. If a card has 12 fights, by the day of the fight you’re probably down to at least 10, maybe less. 

Edited by wandshogun09
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