After the craziness of Saturday night, the long wait has ended for a UFC card, and a bit like London buses, you wait ages for one, and 3 come along at once. The main event, Overeem vs Harris, is a heavyweight showdown that will have everyone’s mouths watering, but kicking off the main card is a sleeper fight in Marlon Vera vs Song Yadong. Both guys are fantastic to watch, on the ground or on the feet, and both guys have intentions to finish the fight, as soon as they get the chance.
Mixed martial arts in China has been an ever growing trend, and nobody is complaining, with emerging stars such as Song Yadong, Li Jingliang, and the current UFC Women’s Strawweight Champion, Weili Zhang. Yadong is the youngest of the 3 mentioned, at just 22 years old, and only 19 when he made his UFC debut in. You could assume he would be rough around the edges, but he has already impressed with an undefeated streak in the UFC, including some brutal knockouts.
After 4 wins and a draw so far in the UFC, whilst not a lot, we have seen plenty of what Yadong can offer. He has good cardio, and will go the distance if he has to, but his style of fighting often means that isn’t necessary. He likes to start fast, often rushing his opponent with a wild first strike to start the round. Afterwards, he often ends up with the centre of the cage, and that’s when he does his best work. He’s fantastic when he’s in the pocket, with fast, sharp elbows and some heavy shots with his hands.
Leg kicks are a strong point of Yadong’s game. Not in a Jose Aldo or Justin Gaethje sense where he can stop the fight with them, but he utilises them perfectly to slow his opponents down. He slowly eats away at them, as he mixes it to the body, head, and legs very well. He keeps fighters thinking and guessing by bouncing around and throwing feints. However, when he’s able to get in range and sit down on his shots, they have KO potential. Along with his lightning speed, power, and an overall fight IQ, he’s a handful for even the top guys in the division on the feet.
Ground game is another solid, underrated part of Yadong’s game. He has a crushing top game, solid positioning and great guillotines, just adding to the already impressive arsenal of the young phenom.
At only 27, ‘Chito’ Vera has already amassed 13 fights in the UFC, going 9-4 in his career so far, but its his last 4 fights that have had people talking about him. Vera was a good BJJ black belt, with some nice stand-up to match. However, after his last loss to Douglas Silva de Andrade, there’s been a change in mentality and fight style.
Vera has fantastic knees in the clinch, and good power on the feet, but his kicks are a huge factor in is success. He’s got very long legs, as well as a longer reach than most Bantamweights and Featherweights at 70”, so the front kicks and jab to keep distance whilst he sets up his overhands and knees will be a key factor in the fight. As well as a great kickboxing game, he’s a legit black belt in BJJ, meaning if it ends up on the ground, he will be looking to add to his 5 UFC submissions to date.
His 5-fight win streak is a testament to his change of style, with 3 knockouts and 2 submissions, the new Chito Vera is a mouth-watering prospect. He has, however, struggled to find an opponent recently, with 4 straight fights getting pulled due to opponents, injuries, etc, he will be raring to go come Saturday night.
Keys to Victory
For Vera, he will need to keep the distance with his kicks, and look to pick Yadong apart on the outside until an opportunity arises.
For Yadong, he will need to close the distance, use his speed to get inside and land his power shots and possibly get the fight to the ground, where both guys are equally as dangerous.
It’s a tough fight to pick, it could really go either way. Marlon Vera has the edge in experience, and in my opinion, Marlon just takes it. Marlon Vera, 3rd round submission.
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Marlon Vera vs Song Yadong