Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) returns later TONIGHT (Sat., March 25, 2023) with a special Fight Night event in San Antonio, Texas, featuring a Bantamweight bout between top contenders Marlon Vera and Cory Sandhagen. Co-headlining the ESPN/ESPN+-streamed event will be a women’s 135-pound match between Holly Holm and Yana Santos.
Just last week, Merab Dvalishvili solidified himself as a title challenger after he manhandled Petr Yan to earn a unanimous decision win. Now, Vera and Sandhagen will try to do the same when they square off in a pivotal 135-pound showdown in San Antonio.
Realistically speaking, Vera has the better shot of securing a title fight with a win because he is currently ranked No. 3 and is riding a four-fight win streak into the fight, which includes a pair of nerve-rattling knockouts over Frankie Edgar and, most recently, Dominick Cruz (replay here).
But, the end game is getting to the big dance and a win over Sandhagen could do the trick. That said, there are still a couple of men who are ahead of him, including the aforementioned Dvalishvili and Sean O’Malley, who are eagerly awaiting the winner of the planned title fight between Aljamain Sterling and Henry Cejudo.
Sandhagen, meanwhile, snapped his two-fight losing streak by defeating Song Yadong in Sept. 2022. Prior to that, he suffered back-to-back losses to T.J. Dillashaw and Petr Yan, so that prevented him from crashing the championship picture himself. A win over Vera will give him everything “Chito” has been working for.
Maycee Barber (No. 13) is on a three-fight win streak, while Andrea Lee (No. 11) is coming off a loss to Viviane Araujo. So why are they fighting each other? I get that Lee is ranked two spots ahead of Barber, but this match is a bit of a head-scratcher based on their recent bodies of work. Nevertheless, Barber can gain some real estate in the division by collecting her fourth straight win, and get her back in the conversation that once had her being a “Future” title challenger.
Original Card Vs. Actual Card:
Alex Caceres was set to face Nate Landwehr, but was forced out of the fight for undisclosed reasons and was replaced by Austin Lingo, who is currently on a two-fight win streak after coming up short in his UFC debut at UFC 247. Landwehr, meanwhile, is also on a two-fight win streak.
Tamires Vidal was in line to face Hailey Cowan in a women’s Bantamweight bout but was pulled from the event the day before the fight for undisclosed medical reasons. Also, Manuel Torres, was forced out of his scheduled Lightweight fight against Trey Ogden after he failed to make it to the weigh ins (also for undisclosed medical issues).
Sean Brady was set to face Michel Pereira, but was forced out of the fight with a torn groin, and there is currently no timetable set for his return. Pereira has not be re-booked for a fight, either.
Vinicius Salvador will be making his UFC debut after earning his way in via Contender Series. Riding a four-fight win streak, Salvador has finishes in all of 14 of his wins so he is all about the action. He will be matched up against Victor Altamirano, who is 1-1 so far in his young UFC career. Overall, he is 5-1 in his last six fights.
How The ‘Prelims’ Look:
Trevin Giles ensured that he would live to fight another day under the UFC banner by snapping his two-fight skid with a win over Louis Cosce in Sept. 2022. He will look to keep his momentum going against Preston Parsons, who is an even 1-1 so far inside the Octagon.
Steven Patterson has been under contract with UFC for five years now, and yet you wouldn’t know it. He’s only managed to stir up a 3-4 record and hasn’t really scored notable enough wins to get him on the radar. He is coming off a loss against Julian Erosa and will now attempt to hand Lucas Alexander his second straight loss after “The Lion” came up short against Joanderson Brito in his UFC debut.
If you want to talk about odd runs over the span of five fights, Daniel Pineda has the weirdest of them all, going 1-1-3. That’s right, in his last five outings he has earned three “No Contests,” two with Professional Fighters League (PFL) and one with UFC. Between that mess, he lost to Herbert Burns, but picked up a win over Cub Swanson. Bottom line, he has to get a win over Tucker Lutz. who saw his impressive 12-fight win streak go out the window courtesy of Pat Sabatini in his last taste of action.
Who Needs A Win Badly
Daniel da Silva came into his UFC debut red-hot on a three-fight win streak and having won 11 of his first 12 fights, but his run inside the Octagon has been anything but stellar. Indeed, “Miojo” has lost all three of his fights and to make matters worse, he has has been stopped each time out. As he heads into his fight against C.J. Vergara, he is pretty much in a do-or-die situation because a fourth straight defeat could mean the end of the road for him in his UFC career.
Interest Level: 6/10
In the co-main event, Holly Holm will attempt to get back in the win column after coming up short against Ketlen Vieira in May 2022. Her setback didn’t stop the promotion from extending her to a new six-fight contract, however. Standing in “The Preacher’s Daughter’s” way is Yana Santos, who is coming off a loss to Irene Aldana. Holm is currently ranked No. 3 and is confident she isn’t too far off from another shot at the title. As for Santos, she is currently ranked No. 6 and has yet to make enough of a push to be considered for a title fight. A win over Holm will go a long way in helping her get close to that goal.
In the Middleweight division, Albert Duraev will face Chidi Njokuani in a battle of two men trying to right their ship. Duraev had his 10-fight win streak snapped by Joaquin Buckley in June 2022 after the fight was stopped by the doctor in round two. Njokuani is also trying to once again experience the sweet taste of victory after his four-fight win streak was halted by Gregory Rodrigues, which was also the first loss of his UFC career. The former Bellator MMA veteran is trying to make some noise in the stacked 185-pound weight class, and a win over Duraev would be huge for his stock.
In a men’s Flyweight fight, Manel Kape and Alex Perez are in line to potentially provide fight fans with a bonus-winning performance. After a rocky start to his UFC career — losing his first two fights inside the Octagon — Kape has really turned it around by winning three in a row, his first such streak in nearly four years. Perez, on the other hand, has lost two straight, so why they booked this fight is mind-boggling. Sure, it will provide fireworks, but if I’m Kape I would be lobbying for someone on a roll instead of someone who was submitted in his previous two outings.
Enjoy the fights!
Full UFC San Antonio Fight Card:
UFC San Antonio Main Event On ESPN/ESPN+:
135 lbs.: Marlon Vera vs. Cory Sandhagen
UFC San Antonio Main Card On ESPN/ESPN+ (7 p.m. ET):
135 lbs.: Holly Holm vs. Yana Santos
145 lbs.: Nate Landwehr vs. Austin Lingo
125 lbs.: Maycee Barber vs. Andrea Lee
185 lbs.: Albert Duraev vs. Chidi Njokuani
UFC San Antonio Prelims Card On ESPN+ (4:30 p.m. ET):
125 lbs.: Manel Kape vs. Alex Perez
145 lbs.: Tucker Lutz vs. Daniel Pineda
145 lbs.: Lucas Alexander vs. Steven Peterson
170 lbs.: Trevin Giles vs. Preston Parsons
125 lbs.: Daniel Lacerda vs. CJ Vergara
155 lbs.: Trey Ogden vs. Manuel Torres— CANCELED (full details here)
125 lbs.: Victor Altamirano vs. Vinicius Salvador
135 lbs.: Hailey Cowan vs. Tamires Vidal— CANCELED (full details here)
*Fight card, bout order and number of fights remain subject to change.*
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 4:30 p.m. ET, then the remaining main card balance (also on ESPN+) at 7 p.m. ET.
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