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UFC San Antonio Predictions: Vera vs Sandhagen

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Texas welcomes the return of the premier MMA organisation as Marlon Vera and Cory Sandhagen lock horns in UFC San Antonio’s Main Event. Both Bantamweight title contenders bring a tantalising mixture of technical quality and traditional blood sweat and tears. The surprisingly decent Fight Night card can be deemed a parting gift from the UFC, who will enjoy a rare week off following this Saturday’s event.

Before we kickstart the MMA Predictions, we must overlook an ancient Holly Holm taking on Yana Santos in the Co-Main Event. That can be considered designated snack collection time. Rather, attention should be focused on Alex Perez’s long-awaited return to the octagon against Manel Kape’s firepower and Nate Landwehr’s post-fight meme interview.

The UFC San Antonio Prelims has unfortunately seen it’s overall quality take a hit, however, after Manuel Torres was forced off the card due to “weight management issues”. The kill-or-be-killed Lightweight misses an opportunity to win over a vocal Texan crowd at the AT&T Center – but if you don’t make the weight, you ain’t destined to be great.

Where is UFC San Antonio taking place?

The event will take place at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, United States, on March 25 2023.

What time does UFC San Antonio start?

The UFC San Antonio Main Event is scheduled to start at 6PM ET in the US and 11PM GMT in the UK. The UFC San Antonio Prelims are scheduled to start at 3PM ET in the US and 8PM GMT in the UK.

Where can I watch UFC San Antonio?

UFC San Antonio can be streamed on ESPN+ in the US and BT Sport in the UK. You are advised to use official streams for the card and avoid using buffstreams, crackstreams or Reddit streams.

UFC San Antonio: Main Event

Marlon Vera vs Cory Sandhagen

Marlon Vera loves a highlight reel knockout – Sean O’Malley, Frankie Edgar and Dominick Cruz can all attest. Sprinkled in between the viral clips, however, have been decisions (victories and losses) that fail to register in fans’ memories. It is worth remembering that just over two years ago, a blown-up Jose Aldo ground Vera down with relative ease.

If I were to come off my high horse for a moment- I would point out that the TUF alum boasts a nigh-unbreakable chin and can take any Bantamweight into deep waters during the championship rounds. Moreover, the 30-year-old has rounded out his lethal clinch striking and distance kicking game to incorporate more mature periods of control grappling.

Vera’s weakness off his back, exploited by a washed-up Frankie Edgar, remains a major issue that cannot be overlooked. Sandhagen is a consummate game planner and exceptional at adapting on the fly. Although The Sandman doesn’t represent the strongest wrestler at 135 lbs, he will still threaten with his wrestling to keep Vera on edge.

What we would all prefer, however, is a five-round banger between two of the most creative strikers on the roster. Vera’s game excels in the pocket with a creative array of elbows and knees. On the flip side, the American’s liquid footwork and seamless combinations off of his feints will cause Vera issues when closing the distance. Expecting a razor-close decision that favours Sandhagen’s activity over Vera’s highlight reel moments.

Vera vs Sandhagen Prediction: Sandhagen Decision

Co-Main Event

Holly Holm vs Yana Santos

How much longer can Holly Holm ride the coattails of her surprise victory over Ronda Rousey? The Preacher’s Daughter may have found herself on the wrong side of a split decision loss to Ketlen Vieira, but her fights have failed to arouse any excitement since battering Bethe Correia in 2017. The 41-year-old remains a technical old dawg but has never lived up to the high-octane kickboxing that her early career stoppage sprees promised.

Meanwhile, Yana Santos continues to stink up the division as a grinding journeywoman. The Russian typically lays on top of her opponent or meets her demise on the feet. Considering Holm’s ultra-conservative volume on the feet, the contests’ dire pace could encourage Santos to open up a little on the feet. Much like the Main Event, a close decision could be on the cards, but this time for all the wrong reasons.

Holm vs Santos Prediction: Holm Decision

UFC San Antonio: Main Card

Nate Landwehr vs Austin Lingo

Nate The Train Landwehr is some man for just one man. After crushing first-round knockout losses to Herbert Burns and Julian Erosa, I had no hope for the American holding up to David Onama’s explosive power. How wrong I was! Landwehr’s nutty gas tank allowed him to pull ahead in the later rounds – even if his pitter-patter striking and naked chin remained as glaringly obvious as usual.

After a humbling in his UFC debut at the hands of Youssef Zalal, Lingo dug deep to pull out two decision victories over Jacob Kilburn and Luis Saldana in 2021. After missing 2022 with a string of injuries, Lingo returns to the octagon cold. It’s never a good call to put your entire faith in Landwehr, especially considering Lingo’s fast starts and heavy hands. Even so, Lingo’s technically limited bag of tricks will more likely see him stuck against the cage. 

Landwehr vs Lingo Prediction: Landwehr Submission Round 3

Andrea Lea vs Maycee Barber

Lee’s 2-3 record in her past five fights is deceiving. KGB submitted Antonina Shevchenko and Cynthia Calvillo but her best showings have been on the feet. Lee’s point-style striking leave a constant barrage of straight shots that will create early problems for Mayceee Barber’s brawling pressure. ‘The Future’ is nearing 25 years old and has little value to show for her time in the UFC aside from a first-round starching of Gillian Robertson. As long as Barber isn’t drawn into a low-paced kickboxing fight, her strength in the clinch should put a scoring stamp on the rounds.

Lee vs Barber Prediction: Barber Decision

Alex Perez vs Manel Kape

It feels like a lifetime ago that Alex Perez chopped down Jussier Formiga with leg kicks in under a round. The 31-year-old has spent a long time on the sidelines for every reason under the sun – injuries, opponent withdrawals, missed weight. Despite returning off the back of two first-round submission losses, Perez has only ever lost to the top Flyweights during his time in the UFC. The Californian is a strong wrestler who should look to avoid trading with Kape – aside from the occasional punishing calf kick.

Portuguese Starboy, Manel Kape, can now officially be regarded as a top contender. Kape was highly rated ahead of his UFC debut in 2021 but back-to-back decision losses left him on the break of a humiliating release. First-round knockouts over Ode Osbourne and Zhalgas Zhumagulov were capped off most recently by the total domination of David Dvorak over three rounds. A freak athletic specimen, Kape’s power and speed look unnatural. Only his low volume and average TDD can be picked out as faults.

Perez vs Kape Prediction: Kape TKO Round 2

Chidi Njokuani vs Albert Duraev

Chidi Chidi Bang Bang is a fearsome one-shot killer marauding outside of the Middleweight top-15. An imposing 6’3″, Njokuani has shown an ability to KO opponents at every range in the UFC. Dusko Todorovic was spangled with an elbow upon exiting the clinch while the typically unbreakable Marc-Andre Barriault was downed in 16 seconds by an overhand right. Njokuani isn’t a defensive savant but his straight counters will punish Duraev if he runs in blindly winging hooks. The Russian was recently stopped by Joaquin Buckley via referees stoppage. Duraev proved his heart, but it marked the fourth KO loss in his professional career. He will be entirely reliant on his wrestling that has looked bit-piece at best in the UFC.

Njokuani vs Duraev Prediction: Njokuani TKO Round 1

UFC San Antonio: Preliminary Card

Daniel Pineda vs Tucker Lutz

Daniel Pineda has an argument for the funkiest MMA record in recent memory. Before the 37-year-old veteran moved to the UFC, his back-to-back first-round finishes in the PFL were overturned to NCs because of PEDs. A win over Herbert Burns and a loss to Cub Swanson in the UFC preceded yet another no-contest – this time as a result of an accidental eye poke against Andre Fili.

Pineda’s lethal finishing is no joke, but his age and ‘natural approach’ will hit a wall against the relentless pace of Tucker Lutz. A hard grafter from the opening bell, Lutz will force the veteran to match his intensity throughout. Add in Top Gun’s durability and it seems like a tough night’s work for Pineda.

Pineda vs Lutz Prediction: Luts Decision

Steven Peterson vs Lucas Alexander

Steven Peterson’s hell-for-leather journeyman style almost saw him pick up a career scalp over Julian Erosa last time out. Ocho’s body is unlikely to hold up much longer at Featherweight after a career of big weight cuts and inviting damage. There may be another day in the sun for the old dog against Lucas Alexander, however. The Brazilian carries a solid punch but not to the extent that it will earn Peterson’s respect in the opening exchanges.

Peterson vs Alexander Prediction: Peterson Decision

Trevin Giles vs Preston Parsons

Trevin Giles’ chin looked spent after back-to-back KO losses to Dricus Du Plessis and Michael Morales. Fighting for his UFC career, Giles banked early rounds with the surprisingly adept use of his rounded striking and grappling chops. Mental errors have consistently plagued the Texan, though. Such mistakes would be costly against a slick submission artist ala Preston Parsons. Parsons was unceremoniously welcomed to the UFC via Daniel Rodriguez’s KO power but picked up a W over Evan Elder to underline his credentials. A close fight for all the wrong reasons – backing Giles’ restored durability to bumble him through to a split decision.

Giles vs Parsons Prediction: Giles Decision

CJ Vergara vs Daniel da Silva

A potential loser leaves town match-up between the (1-2 UFC) CJ Vergara and (0-3 UFC) Daniel da Silva. The simplest take is that Vergara is tough enough to ride out Da Silva’s first-round threat before capitalising on the exhausted Brazilian. Da Silva’s knack for sprinting out of the blocks at 100mph will eventually see him sneak a win, however. I’m a fan of the heavy-handed, all-action Flyweight. Unfortunately, Da Silva’s style does him few favours against an experienced opponent with technical know-how.

Vergara vs Da Silva Prediction: Vergara TKO Round 2

Vinicius Salvador vs Victor Altamirano

Rolling into the octagon off a second-round KO on the DWCS, Vinicius Salvador looks set to inject venomous power into the Flyweight division. Losses to Jafel Filho and Rafael Costa on the regional scene stemmed from glaring gas tank issues, however. This will remain a problem area until he adopts a more mature approach on the feet. Considering Victor Altamirano will happily oblige in a firefight early doors, it may not prove an issue in his debut. El Magnifico has a knack for pulling rounds back late but the result feels entirely reliant upon his ability to weather an early Salvador storm.

Salvador vs Altamirano Prediction: Altamirano Submission Round 3

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