UFC & MMA Betting
Vera vs Sandhagen Prediction: Possible Fight of the Year Contender?
Just when we thought we'd seen a Fight of The Year contender in London last week, we are likely to see a rival in San Antonio. That is because UFC on ESPN 43 features two of the best bantamweight fighters on Planet Earth; Marlon “Chito” Vera and Cory “Sandman” Sandhagen.
Both fighters like finishing their work early. Both fighters seem to enjoy violently knocking opponents out (like, a LOT). Both fighters are also desperate to get back into the bantamweight title picture. Put all of these elements together, and what do you get? One hell of a main event, that's what. And one fitting for the Lone Star State, at that.
Here, we are going to break down the main event of UFC on ESPN 43 in San Antonio, and offer our Vera vs Sandhagen prediction on who might win this gunslinging duel.
Marlon Vera Preview: Is it “Chito” Time?
Marlon Vera has been on one hell of a ride. Following some inconsistent form in his early UFC career, “Chito” has been on an absolute tear. In fact, in his last 6 fights, he is 5-1, with his sole loss being a razor thin defeat to Jose Aldo. Some of his mammoth scalps include Sean O'Malley, Dominick Cruz and UFC legend Frankie Edgar. In all of these wins, Vera has looked little short of spectacular.
Vera has a tendency to finish opponents, and finish them violently. The Frankie Edgar KO? Made a viral meme due to its savagery. The Cruz finish? A monstrous head kick that would have knocked out a rhino. The point here is that Vera is DANGEROUS, and must be respected on the feet. There is also the small matter of a BJJ Black Belt to consider should the fight (albeit unlikely) hit the deck.
Cory Sandhagen Preview: Enter Sandman…
Cory Sandhagen has long been an avid fan favourite for many, and for very good reason. He is a human highlight reel. Like the man standing across from him, “The Sandman” has a penchant for the spectacular. POTN bonuses, FOTY contenders; Cory Sandhagen has seen it and been involved in it. Marlon Moraes vanquished by a savage high kick. Frankie Edgar the victim of a crushing (and STANDING) flying knee KO. Need we say much more?
Even in defeat, Sandhagen has only lost to the crème de la crème of the division. Current champion Aljamain Sterling, former champion Petr Yan and arguable bantamweight GOAT TJ Dillashaw are the only men to defeat Sandhagen. Bear in mind that the Petr Yan defeat was a back-and-forth epic; 17 out of 23 media outlets scored Sandhagen's loss to Dillashaw for Sandhagen. That is the level we are talking about here.
Vera vs Sandhagen Prediction: Who's Gonna Win at UFC on ESPN 43?
The truth is that this one is very tough to call.
Both fighters are extremely similar. Both fighters are elite kickboxers. Both fighters have fight-ending power, and both fighters will command the respect of the other. Vera commands an 80% finish rate in his career, whilst Sandhagen boasts a 67% finishing rate.
However, there are some clear differences.
The big difference that one can see straight off the bat is the variety of each man's arsenal. Whilst Vera's game is nothing to scoff at, the variety of Sandhagen's technique is truly second to none. Sandhagen is truly capable of landing elbows, knees, and all manner of limbs from pretty much any imaginable angle. This could be a defining difference in this fight. Vera is going to have to be exceptionally careful, because Sandhagen truly can KO you from anywhere.
Another big difference that may come into play in this fight is height. Whilst Vera holds a slight edge in reach (70 1/2in to 69 1/2in), he suffers from a 3 inch height disparity. Sandhagen is very tall for the 135lb division, and is very good at making full use of his physical attributes. He is hard to hold and pin down, with only the most exceptional of technique capable of doing this. He also has been working on his wrestling, which was on impressive display against Song Yadong last time out.
Cory Sandhagen's Fight to Lose
In short, the analysis seems to swing our Vera vs Sandhagen prediction towards Cory Sandhagen. It is a strong argument that Chito might end up being too tough to finish, but one could also argue that Sandhagen's output, cardio and well roundedness could be enough to see him to a decision victory.
Our prediction is that Cory Sandhagen will have enough to end up victorious in this UFC San Antonio main event, a win that should see him propel himself back into the UFC bantamweight title picture. Given that Merab Dvalishvili has made clear his unwillingness to fight Aljamain Sterling whilst he is champion, this fight may have bigger implications than many thought beforehand. A not-too-distant title shot, perhaps? Only time will tell.