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UFC San Antonio predictions: Late ‘Prelims’ undercard preview | Vera vs. Sandhagen

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is bringing more “Prelims” fights to ESPN+ this weekend (Sat., March 25, 2023) when UFC San Antonio hits AT&T Center in Texas.’s Patrick Stumberg kicks of the UFC San Antonio “Prelims” party with the first installment of a two-part undercard preview series below.

MMA: UFC 186-Cote vs Riggs Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

The impossibly-deep Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Bantamweight division churns out another hotly anticipated main event this Saturday (March 25, 2023) when Marlon Vera and Cory Sandhagen headline the Octagon’s return to San Antonio, Texas. In addition, the ESPN+-streamed main card will also showcase Holly Holm vs. Yana Santos and Andrea Lee vs. Maycee Barber, as well as a pivotal Flyweight battle pitting Alex Perez against Manel Kape.

We’ve got three more UFC San Antonio “Prelims” to examine (check out the first batch here), though, so let’s not keep them waiting ...

LIVE! Stream UFC Vegas 74 On ESPN+

HIGH STAKES FLYWEIGHT MATCHUP! Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) returns home to UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada, on Sat., June 3, 2023, with No. 3-seeded contender, Kai Kara-France, face rising No. 7-ranked Amir Albazi. In UFC Vegas 74’s ESPN+-streamed co-main event, an exciting Featherweight bout sees No. 15-ranked contender, Alex Caceres, lock horns with all-action Daniel Pineda.

Don’t miss a single second of face-punching action!

145 lbs.: Daniel Pineda vs. Tucker Lutz

More than six years after a loss to Robert Whiteford sent him packing from the world’s largest mixed martial arts (MMA) promotion, Daniel Pineda (27-14) returned to pound out Herbert Burns and claim his second post-fight bonus. The momentum wasn’t to last, though, as “The Pit” suffered a knockout loss to Cub Swanson before an accidental eye poke cut short a one-sided beating from Andre Fili.

He fights for the first time in nearly 21 months.

The second Contender Series bid for Tucker Lutz (12-2) also failed to produce a finish, but two wins in less than three months earned him a spot in the Octagon. He started strong with a decision over Kevin Aguilar, only to fall to Pat Sabatini his next time out.

His eight professional finishes are split 6:2 between knockouts and submissions.

Almost 16 years and 45 fights into his professional career, Pineda remains one of the toughest men in the sport. He just never quite rounded out the rest of his game to match ... especially his wrestling. Grit’s not going to carry him through this one, thought. That’s because Lutz is nearly a decade younger, can hold his own on the feet, and boasts an effective, high-volume takedown attack that can stop any potential “Pit” momentum in its tracks.

Pineda is still dangerous, of course, but the prognosis looks grim. He can’t rely on Lutz’s cardio imploding the way Burns’ did and doesn’t have the skills to either keep it on the feet or finish Lutz off of his back. Even if Pineda emerged from those two maulings with all of his faculties intact, his toolbox just isn’t deep enough. In short, Lutz out-works and out-grinds him to a wide decision.

Prediction: Lutz via unanimous decision

145 lbs.: Steven Peterson vs. Lucas Alexander

Steven Peterson (19-10) finally put together his first multi-fight Octagon winning streak by knocking out Martin Bravo and subsequently beating down Chase Hooper in Glendale. He wasn’t quite able to make it three straight, dropping a split decision to Julian Erosa to drop his UFC record down to 3-4.

Saturday marks the end of a nearly 14-month layoff.

Once 2-2 as a professional, Lucas Alexander (7-3) capped off a five-fight winning streak with an injury stoppage of Jacob Kilburn. Eight months later, he stepped up on short notice to face Joanderson Brito, who put him away with a rear-naked choke two minutes into the first round.

He’ll enjoy a three-inch reach advantage over “Ocho.”

I can’t really hold Alexander’s debut loss against him. Brito’s ridiculous pressure, punching power and grappling skills made him a nightmare match up at the best of times. Peterson is nowhere near that level of finisher or physical presence, meaning Alexander should have much more freedom to let his kickboxing flow.

That said, Peterson’s another high-pressure fighter, and what he lacks in one-shot power and offensive wrestling he makes up for with persistence. While Alexander is the more dynamic striker of the two, I’m not convinced he can play keep-away for 15 minutes, especially since he lacks the sort of takedown threat that Peterson usually struggles with. Peterson’s aggression and Alexander’s difficulties staying off the cage combine to let “Ocho” out-work him to a narrow decision.

Prediction: Peterson via split decision

170 lbs.: Trevin Giles vs. Preston Parsons (10-3)

Trevin Giles’ (15-4) three-fight win streak gave way to two straight stoppage losses courtesy of Dricus Du Plessis and Michael Morales. Next came Louis Cosce, whom Giles narrowly outworked to a unanimous decision in an execrable fight.

He stands one inch taller than Preston Parsons (10-3) and boasts a three-inch reach advantage.

Parsons’ short-notice UFC debut saw him knocked out in one by Daniel Rodriguez, ending a four-fight win streak. He did quite a bit better against his own late-notice foe, dominatING Evan Elder in April 2022 to earn a wide decision win.

All but one of his professional wins have come by submission.

While Giles is 4-4 in his last eight bouts, the only impressive performance of the lot was his 2020 knockout of Bevon Lewis, who washed out of the organization at 1-3. Last time out, the guy conspired to look awful against a man in Cosce who attempted fewer than 50 strikes and just one takedown. That’s not exactly inspiring stuff against a very capable grappler who showed off quality striking in his recent win.

I may be reading too much into Parsons’ victory over a late-notice Lightweight, but Giles’ poor fight IQ and apparent loss of the fluidity and sharpness that made him a hot prospect once upon a time have me thinking he struggles. In the end, consistent takedowns will carry Parsons to a comfortable win.

Prediction: Parsons via unanimous decision

UFC San Antonio’s main event looks special, and while the rest of the card’s wonky, fights like Landwehr vs. Lingo, Perez vs. Kape and Njokuani vs. Duraev could turn out to be gems. See you Saturday, Maniacs.

Current Prediction Record for 2023: 46-17-1

Remember that will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC San Antonio fight card right here, starting with the ESPN+ “Prelims” matches, which are scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. ET, then the remaining main card balance (also on ESPN+) at 7 p.m. ET.

To check out the latest and greatest UFC San Antonio: “Vera vs. Sandhagen” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.

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