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UFC San Antonio Main Event Breakdown

There’s an old saying in San Antonio, “Remember the Alamo.” MMA’s top promotion has certainly done that. Saturday night, the UFC makes its third appearance in the city to end the first quarter of this year.

San Antonio’s AT&T Center, the home court of the NBA‘s San Antonio Spurs, plays host to UFC San Antonio. Live coverage of Saturday night’s card begins with the prelims at 4 pm ET/ 1 pm PT on ESPN+, followed up by the main card at 7 pm ET/ 4 pm PT. In total, barring any 11th-hour postponements ahead of fight night, UFC San Antonio will feature a full 12-fight card.

No. 3 Meets No. 5 For Bantamweight Confrontation in UFC San Antonio Main Event

Highlighting the night’s festivities is a bantamweight showcase in the UFC San Antonio main event. No. 3 contender Marlon Vera (20-7-1 MMA, 14-6 UFC) battles No. 5 contender Cory Sandhagen (15-4 MMA, 8-3 UFC). As with all UFC headliners, this week’s main event is an advertised maximum of five rounds at five minutes per round to close the show.

This fight is a rebooking of a contest originally scheduled five weeks ago. Initially, Vera and Sandhagen were supposed to have fought on the night of Feb. 18 during UFC Vegas 69, but the promotion canceled and shifted the fight to this weekend’s card.

After a five-week delay, these two men will finally touch gloves in the cage. Will the month of March go out like a lamb or a lion in the UFC?

UFC San Antonio Main Event Fighter Comparison and Betting Odds

Heading into the UFC San Antonio main event this Saturday night, Cory Sandhagen stands as the taller gladiator at 5-foot-11, compared to the 5-foot-8 frame of Marlon Vera. The tale of the tape for this fight is as close as it gets, folks.

Vera owns a half-inch reach (70 1/2 inches to 70 inches even) and leg reach advantage (40 1/2 inches to 40 inches even) over Sandhagen. The oddsmakers have Cory Sandhagen installed as a -165 favorite, with Marlon Vera countering as a +140 underdog. If you plan on betting on this or any other fight happening this weekend, please wager responsibly.

Marlon Vera Gives Verbal Jabs in Interview

Marlon Vera enters the UFC San Antonio main event on Saturday night having gone 4-1 in his last five fights. Currently, he’s on a four-fight winning streak.

Last time out, he scored a fourth-round knockout thanks to a head kick versus Dominick Cruz (24-4 MMA, 7-3 UFC) in San Diego back in August. In the run-up to the originally-scheduled fight between Vera and Sandhagen, the latter took the former’s style of combat into question, referring to it as “not reliable.”

Not long after the fight was rebooked to this weekend, Marlon Vera was interviewed by Mike Bohn of USA Today’s MMA Junkie. To say that Vera had some choice words about his upcoming adversary is the understatement of 2023 thus far.

“That’s just his opinion. That’s what he thinks, right?”, Vera asked. “He needs to convince himself of being okay to win. I don’t need to say anything about him to think I’m going to win. I’m going to win because I’m working this hard, so if he thinks my style’s not reliable or whatever he thinks, that’s on him. He’s going to wake up and be like (‘expletive deleted,) I got caught’. No, you didn’t get caught, you got knocked the (bleep) out, or you got submitted.”

Strong words from Marlon Vera. The million-dollar question is one of whether or not he can back them up on Saturday night in the UFC San Antonio main event.

Sandhagen Acknowledges Vera is a Tough Opponent

In the other corner, Cory Sandhagen has posted a record of 3-2 in his last five fights. Back in September, he saw a two-fight losing streak snapped due to a TKO at the end of the fourth round (doctor’s stoppage: cut) of Song Yadong in Las Vegas.

During his pre-fight media availability, Sandhagen mentioned that fighting Marlon Vera is no easy task.

“Marlon’s definitely one of those guys where you don’t chase a finish against that guy,” Sandhagen said of his opponent. “I fought guys with really tough chins before and have been like ‘Well, if they fall over, cool, but let’s not exert a ton of energy trying to finish a guy that’s going to be majorly tough to finish.’ His will to win just adds up another level of excitement for me, too.”

The time for talk has expired. It’s time to find out what these two are capable of.

Analysis, Film Study, and Prediction

Stylistically, the UFC San Antonio main event on Saturday night looks to favor Marlon Vera, a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, compared to Cory Sandhagen’s brown belt in BJJ and his status as a former kickboxer.

Vera Has Nasty Punches

Even though Marlon Vera might be a tough guy to try to finish, he can finish the fight with his fists. Just ask Frankie Saenz, who was knocked out by Vera four years ago.

During round one of a scheduled three, Vera landed an outside leg kick, but Saenz landed a few strikes of his own, including a kick to the body. At that point, the fight slowed momentarily as the two men stalked one another.

Upon going into the clinch, Vera wobbled Saenz with a punch, causing the former to smell blood in the water. From there, Vera dropped Saenz thanks to a right-handed punch after a leg kick. Marlon Vera ended the contest with a variety of ground and pound shots.

If Vera can land a right hand on the money against Cory Sandhagen, it could be the opening he needs to finish the UFC San Antonio main event. Cory Sandhagen has been known to go deep into the fight, however.

Watch for Sandhagen to Wear Vera Down

Last September, Cory Sandhagen battled Song Yadong in Las Vegas during the main event of UFC Vegas 60. At the start of the fourth round, referee Herb Dean was informed by the fight doctor to monitor the cut above Song’s eye, with it already swelling.

Knowing this, Cory Sandhagen went to work on the eye and switched his stance to southpaw. Even though Song needed the comeback of a lifetime, he landed a counterpunch, but it wasn’t anywhere close to enough.

Song Yadong landed a knockdown of Sandhagen thanks to a two-punch combination after a kick to the body by his opponent. He tried to turn the tide by landing ground and pound shots. Upon returning to his feet, a very game Yadong landed punches to Sandhagen’s face.

Late in the round, Sandhagen landed top mount and landed more punches to effectively close Yadong’s eye from all of the swelling and bleeding. After the horn blared to end the fourth round, the doctor had seen enough, mercifully ending the contest.

Cory Sandhagen might have to wear Marlon Vera down in the UFC San Antonio main event, but only time will tell.

Final Thoughts

Even though there’s no belt at stake here, look for Vera and Sandhagen to approach the UFC San Antonio main event as though it’s a title fight. The winner finds himself one step close to hoisting the championship in the future.

Prediction: Marlon Vera by Unanimous Decision.

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