After an important trilogy was settled in London, England, Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is back on the road this weekend (Sat., March 25, 2023) in San Antonio, Texas. In the main event, a crucial matchup in the Bantamweight division goes down as No. 3-ranked contender, Marlon Vera, takes on No. 5-seeded Cory Sandhagen. Before that hoedown sparks this weekend in “The Lone Star State,” check out some random UFC San Antonio storylines, tidbits and statistics.
Main Event ‘Chito’
Let’s start with one-half of the main event. Vera competes in his third consecutive headliner this weekend, his first two being against Rob Font and Dominick Cruz. “Chito” is undefeated (2-0) thus far as a featured attraction.
Marlon “Chito” Vera in 2014 & 2023 pic.twitter.com/2n9ea3LhkR— MMA Mania (@mmamania) March 22, 2023
Sticking with Vera, he has the most stoppages in 135-pound history with 10. He passed T.J. Dillashaw when he knocked out Frankie Edgar at UFC 268 with an epic front kick to the face.
Front kick to the face!! @ChitoVeraUFC's bringing his four fight win streak to #UFCSanAntonio on Saturday night! pic.twitter.com/rqF5G32iF6— UFC (@ufc) March 22, 2023
Sandhagen boasts one of the better back tattoos in UFC; however, at UFC San Antonio media day, he revealed that he doesn’t even like it anymore.
You may be asking, what does this have to do with fighting ... well, absolutely nothing:
Cory Sandhagen doesn’t really love his back tattoo anymore pic.twitter.com/ANGmHyiK1v— MMA Mania (@mmamania) March 22, 2023
Preacher’s Daughter, UFC Lifer!
Holly Holm isn’t going anywhere. This week, the former women’s Bantamweight champion signed a new six-fight deal. “The Preacher’s Daughter” also believes she is one or two fights away from another title shot.
Yana Kunitskaya is no more! This week we introduce Yana Santos. The No. 6-ranked women’s Bantamweight is returning from a two-year layoff during which she was pregnant with a baby girl. Yep, that means Thiago Santos — former UFC title challenger and current PFL asset — is now a girl dad.
Congrats to all!
Knock On Wood
Alex Perez has had a terrible couple of years, but he finally returns at UFC San Antonio. Since his Flyweight title fight with Deiveson Figueiredo in 2020 (watch highlights), he has had eight canceled fights because of injuries, weight misses or opponents pulling out. As a result, he has only fought once, which was his last outing against Alexandre Pantoja (watch highlights).
Perez doesn’t get an easy task upon his return, either, facing No. 9-ranked Flyweight, Manel Kape.
Goin’ Back To Texas
One last thing about Perez: UFC San Antonio will mark his second fight in a row in Texas. He battled Pantoja at UFC 277 in Dallas in 2022.
Welcome Back, Daniel Pineda (a.k.a. Mr. Violence)
Daniel Pineda returns to the Octagon this weekend after a lengthy layoff because of injuries.
“The Pit” has been fighting professionally since 2007 and still holds a 100 percent finish rate. Yup, he has 44 fights under his belt and has never seen a judge’s scorecard in a win.
In other words, Pineda is violent and brings it every single time. He faces Tucker Lutz on Saturday.
Daniel Pineda returns this weekend at #UFCSanAntonio— MMA Mania (@mmamania) March 21, 2023
He has a 27-14-3 record, and holds a 100% finish rate pic.twitter.com/SEpG6fgX6p
Welcome To UFC, Vinicius Salvador
Only one fighter is making his UFC debut this weekend because unfortunately, Hailey Cowan’s fight got canceled last-minute (full details here). Vinicius Salvador is coming off an absolute banger against Shannon Ross on season six of Dana White’s Contender Series.
The Brazilian has already had his UFC debut scheduled and canceled twice so here’s to hoping it all stays intact. Salvador faces Victor Altamirano on the “Prelims” undercard.
After a ridiculous fight, Vinicius Salvador knocks out Shannon Ross.— MMA Mania (@mmamania) August 3, 2022
If you missed it, go watch it ASAP.#DWCSpic.twitter.com/np9K9pPf82
First UFC Crowd
It is wild to think, but there are several fighters who have yet to experience a sold-out UFC crowd. Chidi Njokuani is one of those fighters, but he will finally experience it in his home state of Texas.
Njokuani was practically begging to get on the UFC 277 card last year, but it didn’t play out.
Fighting since 2007, “Chidi Chidi Bang Bang” will finally get that rush this weekend as he takes on Albery Duraev.
FIFTEEN SECONDS IS ALL HE NEEDED IN THE DEBUT!!!!!!!— UFC (@ufc) February 5, 2022
Give it up for @ChidiBangNjoku #UFCVegas47 pic.twitter.com/QyGCUvr43K
Wins And losses
Ten fighters are coming off wins, while 12 are coming off losses.
Here are the divisions that will be on display this Saturday:
- One Welterweight fight
- One Middleweight fight
- Three Featherweight fights
- One Bantamweight fight
- Three men’s Flyweight fights
- One women’s Flyweight fight
- One women’s Bantamweight fight
According to DraftKings, the “biggest” underdog at UFC San Antonio is Pineda at just +255.
Remember that MMAmania.com 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.