The time is finally here as we wrap up UFC San Antonio and look towards the main event of the evening, a bout that features two ranked Bantamweights with some of the cleanest knockouts in the division on both of their resumés. No. 3-ranked Marlon “Chito” Vera will go to battle with No. 5 Cory Sandhagen in a huge fight with title implications for the Bantamweight (135 lb) Division. If there was ever a time to make a fan out of someone who’s never seen a UFC fight before, this would be the fight to show them. Check out our UFC odds series for our Vera-Sandhagen prediction and pick.
Marlon Vera 22-7-1 in his career as a mixed martial artist and has gone 14-6 in his 20 fights with the UFC. He’s been a dangerous opponent for anyone he’s faced since his debut in 2014 and now in his athletic prime, Vera is ready to cement himself as the next Bantamweight title challenger. He’s won 10 of his last 12 and is currently on a four-fight winning streak that’s seen him earn two head-kick knockouts over legends Frankie Edgar and Dominick Cruz. A win here would likely put him in line to possibly challenge Aljamain Sterling for the title. “Chito” Vera stands 5’8″ with a 70.5-inch reach.
Cory Sandhagen is 15-4 in his professional career and has gone 8-3 in the UFC. As one of the more exciting and violent strikers on the roster, Sandhagen has managed highlight-reel KO’s of Marlon Moraes (wheel kick) and Frankie Edgar (flying knee) in his recent wins. After going on a two-fight skid where he dropped decisions to TJ Dillashaw and Petr Yan, Sandhagen bounced back with a win over Song Yadong via doctor stoppage. A win over a top contender in Vera would put Sandhagen in the talks for once again challenging for the belt. He stands 5’11” with a 70-inch reach.
Here are the UFC Odds, courtesy of FanDuel.
UFC San Antonio Odds: Marlon Vera-Cory Sandhagen Odds
Marlon Vera: +136
Cory Sandhagen: -174
Will the Fight Go the Distance? YES: -132
Will the Fight Go the Distance? NO: +104
How to Watch Marlon Vera vs. Cory Sandhagen
Stream: ESPN App, UFC Fight Pass
Time: 7:00 p.m. ET/ 4:00 p.m. PT (Main Card)
*Watch sports LIVE with fuboTV (click for a free trial)*
Why Marlon Vera Will Win
Marlon Vera has entered his athletic prime as a fighter and it’s become apparent in his last four fights. His striking looks as crisp as ever and he’s rounding his game out to be lethal wherever the fight may take place. He’s also a notorious finisher and can put opponents away at any point, boasting 8 KO/TKO wins and 10 wins by submission while never being submitted in his career. In his last fight, Vera outclassed Dominick Cruz for four rounds and looked untouchable on the feet. His hands were landing clean and he was hurting Cruz for the entire fight before landing a perfect head kick to knock him out. The timing of his strikes seems to be dialed-in like never before, so look for Marlon Vera to open up his arsenal against a willing dance partner.
Vera is also lethal on the ground with his wide-range of submission wins and can put opponents in dire situations if they’re lazy on the ground for even a second. He has a good takedown defense at 68% and lands his own takedowns at 42%. He’ll have the advantage on the ground in this one, so look for Chito to lean on his grappling if he’s unable to find the range against Sandhagen on the feet. If he can crowd Sandhagen and pressure him with his high output of striking, Vera could land enough blows to put this one away before having to chase a submission.
Why Cory Sandhagen Will Win
Cory Sandhagen continues to be one of the more creative strikers in the UFC and can throw dangerous, fight-ending shots up until the final bell rings. He’s no stranger to a five-round war and will welcome one against Vera if the situation calls for it. In the pocket, Sandhagen is lethal with the variety of strikes he utilizes, often using his knees and throwing elbows from awkward angles. He does a great job of using his head movement and is very fast on the feet, making him a tough opponent to hit. Sandhagen fights with an flowy, herky-jerky style that throws many of his opponents off. He uses a ton of feints and tries to confuse opponents with the angles he cuts with foot movement. Against a walk-down style like Vera’s, Sandhagen could see some success in the striking if he is able to dart in-and-out of range.
In his losses to Yan and Dillashaw, Sandhagen lacked output at points and couldn’t find answers once his opponents started finding a home in their jab. He won’t want to risk getting submitted by the crafty grappler in Vera, so look for Sandhagen to make use of the clinch as he’ll be the taller man. If he can throw Vera’s rhythm off with his fast feet, Sandhagen will be able to land counter-shots and leave the exchanges with more damage done.
Final Marlon Vera-Cory Sandhagen Prediction & Pick
This has all the makings of Fight of the Night and rightfully so. Both men have a full arsenal of striking attacks that they’ll put on full display Saturday Night. While Sandhagen seems to be the more dangerous striker, Vera has been more consistent with his performances. Sandhagen has certainly faced the better competition as of late, but the prediction lies for “Chito” Vera to get it done in this one. He has more ways to win if the fight hits the ground and his will has looked unbreakable as of late. Let’s take the underdog in this razor-thin matchup.
Final Marlon Vera-Cory Sandhagen Prediction & Pick: Marlon Vera (+136)