Mixed martial arts (MMA) fans have spoken ... and the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) has listened.
According to numerous sources close to UFC, a highly anticipated Bantamweight showdown between Marlon “Chito” Vera vs. Cory Sandhagen has been moved from UFC Vegas 69’s main event on Feb. 18, 2023, inside UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada, to March 25, 2023, inside AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas.
That means we clearly have to wait another month for Vera and Sandhagen to clash, which sucks a little. But, it will be worth it to see them scrap in front of 18,500 fans in “The Lone Star State” rather than a few dozen randoms in “Sin City.”
While UFC has yet to comment on the reason for the switch, fans are already taking credit for the move. A campaign on Twitter denouncing the promotion’s decision to headline UFC San Antonio with a Raquel Pennington vs. Irene Aldana fight, while relegating Vera vs. Sandhagen to a UFC Vegas 69 APEX event quickly picked up steam. Indeed, more than 9,000 fans participated in one of several polls on social media calling for “Chito” vs. “The Sandman” to be contested in a proper arena with an audience.
In fact, an overwhelming 87.1 percent of pollsters agreed that made the most sense.
So Chito vs. Sandhagen is in the APEX. And Pennington vs. Aldana 2 is rumored for the AT&T Center in San Antonio. Both main events. One in an actual venue with crowd and one in the APEX where you can hear a pin drop.— Marcel Dorff (@BigMarcel24) January 27, 2023
What fight would you prefer to have in San Antonio?! @ufc
Twitter polls haven’t been particularly effective lately, but this time social media users got what they wanted.
CHITO SANDHAGEN MOVED FROM THE APEX TO THE MAIN EVENT OF UFC SAN ANTONIO pic.twitter.com/bvusQkxlkm— Conner Burks (@connerburks) February 3, 2023
Sure, we may find out in a few days that either Vera or Sandhagen had a small injury that forced the movement. But, for the moment, let’s celebrate what appears to be UFC hearing the fans and recognizing Vera vs. Sandhagen deserves an audience. Leaving them to compete inside the APEX felt like a lack of attention to detail. Although now it’s clear we have three tiers of UFC events: pay-per-view (PPV), proper “Fight Nights”-themed shows in front of crowds, and APEX events.
UFC was extremely aggressive in keeping events going through COVID by holding events inside its APEX facility. As we approach UFC Vegas 70, though, we’re starting to wonder why events continue to be held in the functional, but tepid, space.
UFC President, Dana White, said it best in March 2021.
“You know what this is kinda like?” he asked during UFC 260’s post-event press conference. “Everybody who’s getting lazy and used to working at home. You leave your pajama bottoms on, put a nice top on, sit in front of your computer screen and Zoom somebody. It’s the easy, lazy way to do things, but this isn’t the right thing to do.”
UFC Vegas 69’s replacement main event has since been announced: Taila Santos vs. Erin Blanchfield. Santos is coming off a controversial split decision loss to Valentina Shevchenko, while Blanchfield is riding a four-fight win streak inside the Octagon, most recently cranking Molly McCann into submission at UFC 281 (watch highlights).
To check out the updated UFC Vegas 69 fight card and rumors click here.