Two of bantamweight's finest are ready to go to battle in hopes of entering the title picture's shortlist.
Another weekend, another Fight Night! And this one has some absolute bangers on it. The marquee bout will be contested by two of the most exciting fighters at 135bs. We also have former champ, Holly Holm, looking to show that she's not going anywhere just yet. Maycee Barber, Nate Landwehr, Manel Kape, and many other exciting fighters are on the bill, too!
— UFC (@ufc) March 25, 2023
Hangout here as I give the live updates for the main card, along with round-by-round updates and my personal take on who won what rounds.
Live coverage of our main event, Corey Sandhagen vs Marlon Vera
Cory Sandhagen has fallen just short of gold, but he's still chilling at the top of the division. With a win here, it'll be hard to deny that he's just a fight away from another title shot. Sandhagen brings dynamic striking, creative grappling, and a great chin into this fight.
Opposite him is the battle-tested, Marlon ‘Chito' Vera. ‘Chito' has never been finished in his professional career. This four-fight winning streak most recently saw Vera kick former champ, Dominick Cruz, unconscious. This bout has “fight of the night” written all over it. Let's get into the round-by-round updates!
Round one: This was a good opening round! Closely contested on the feet, but nothing too significant happened. Sandhagen throws a flying knee and gets Vera thinking about that, but then he changes levels and secures a takedown. ‘The Sandman' spends about half of the round on top.
Round two: Cory is able to crack ‘Chito' with some punches before securing yet another takedown. D1 Sandhagen may be a new mythical fighter. Thugh Vera was able to eventually get back to his feet, he couldn't do much with it. Sandhagen used this round to rack up more top control and boost his confidence.
Round three: This was a much better round for ‘Chito'. He landed a clean 1-2, which may have been the most significant strikes of the fight so far. Sandhagen shot about twice, but he was not able to take Vero down. Cory's uppercut has been money all night, but Marlon's chin holds up.
Round four: Perhaps a bit slower than anticipated, but this is a very technical fight. Being flashy could risk it all for either fighter here. Sandhagen's feints and footwork have made it so that Vera can't get anything going. Going into round five, Vera will need something big.
Round five: Vera needs a finish and he's out of the gate fighting like it. Sandhagen knows this and he gets a takedown to mitigate any risk. More top control time is accumulated by Sandhagen, but the two end up standing and trading again. Vera is throwing bombs at a retreating Cory, but he's running into some bombs himself. This last round was fun!
Official result: Cory Sandhagen via split decision
Holly Holm vs Yana Santos round by round updates
It's not too often that we see Holm scheduled for three rounds. The former champion has quite the resume. She's fought the who's who of woman's MMA and is wanting to show that she's still got what it takes to hang at the top. Holm's kickboxing and tenure often serves her well.
However, Santos is wanting to become a fresh face for the bantamweight top five. As her and Holm both look to bounce back into the win column, it seems that the winner here won't be too far away from a title shot.
Round one: Santos wastes no time in rushing Holm and getting into the clinch. The former champ is defending well, but this is certainly less than ideal for her. Once separated, Holm's kicks are too much for Santos. Not quite able to read her opponent, Santos eats three consecutive front kicks to the face. One takedown later, Holly ends the round on top.
Round two: Shades of 2015 Holly Holm in this round. Holly is putting the pressure on, landing that straight left, and push kicks Santos over. Most of this round takes place on the ground with the former champion in top side control. Great pressure with elbow strikes sprinkled in have Holm clearly taking over the fight. ‘The Preacher's Daughter' gets the mounted crucifix for a bit, but Yana squirms out. However, she's not out of danger yet; Holm mounts her for the remainder of the round.
Round three: Santos was very eager to clinch in the first round. Now, it's her worst nightmare. Another body lock takedown, and Holm mounts Yana once again. This time, she has much more time to work. Holly think about an armbar for a moment, but she opts to stay on top and rain down shots. Back in mount again. Yana almost gives up a rear-naked choke, but nothing doing. Holm ends the fight on top and proves that she's still a force to be reckoned with.
Nate Landwehr vs Austin Lingo live results
Nate Landwehr is such an exciting fighter. He last competed in late 2022 where him and David Onama put on one of the most exciting fights ever. Nate ‘The Train' will look to extend his winning streak and further grow his fanbase at the expense of 9-1 Austin Lingo.
Lingo lost his UFC in debut in 2020 but has hit a perfect 2-0 since then. Unanimous decision wins against Luis Saldana and Jacob Kilburn has earned him this shot against a bigger named fighter.
Round one: Nate Landwehr is eating shots early, but he gains his composure and gets a rhythm going. A clash of heads opens Nate up, but the action continues on. Lingo is looking really sharp and his overhand right is stunning. Nate has blocked most of the shots with his high guard, but Lingo's activity won the round for him in my opinion.
Round two: Leave it to my internet to crash for a fight I'm really looking forward to. As I get back to the fight, It looks like Lingo's boxing is a bit too much for Landwehr. However, a head kick wobbles Austin and Nate is on go mode now. He's landing bigger shots and gets a body lock takedown. Lingo gives up his back and exposes his neck. Nate snatches the neck, puts his hooks in, adjusts, and voila, that's a dub for ‘The Train'!
Official result: Nate Landwehr via submission
Andrea Lee vs Maycee Barber round by round updates
After spending nearly a year on the shelf, Andrea Lee will try to join the winner's circle once more. Lee's last two wins were both via stoppage, and it's safe to assume she'd like to have a short night in the office against Maycee Barber.
Barber may have fallen short of her goal to be the youngest champion ever, but she's certainly still a champion hopeful. Maycee's last loss was against the current champion, Alexa Grasso, so that's a loss that aged well. Since then, she's string together three consecutive decision wins. This should be a good scrap!
Round one: The fight starts and Barber comes out guns blazin'. She got a little too into it and is taken down by Lee earl on. While in bottom side control, Barber does some funky stuff and traps Lee's arm. ‘The Future' lands some good elbows but Andrea was able to regain her limb. a scramble has Barber's back taken for a bit, but another scramble ensures and we're back on the feet! This was a close round, but Lee had the control time.
Round two: The two are exchanging kicks for a few minutes, but Barber breaks any momentum Lee has with a takedown. Things are pretty neutral, but then Maycee lands some bombs! Once again, she got a little too eager and is taken down. Lee is back on top. Lee is working on an arm triangle, but Barber is hip to this. Things are heating up at the end of the round with Barber throwing upkicks from the bottom!
Round three: Round three, let's go! Barber starts things off very kick-heavy again, and is once agains taken down. This time, Barber is working with a bit more urgency to get back up. Barber knows that she may be down and she's fighting like it. She scores a takedown of her own, but really doesn't do anything with it. Lee is able to secure a body lock takedown and end the round on top. This probably won her the fight.
Official result: Barber via split decision
Alex Perez vs Manel Kape updates
This is a fight you'll really want updates for! Perez and Kape are two of the most exciting fighters in the flyweight top ten right now. Perez is a great fighter, but has been on the wrong end of his last two fights. He has no tough task ahead of him as he tries to put a halt to this losing skid.
— UFC (@ufc) March 24, 2023
Manel Kape is a dangerous man. Finishing 16 of his 18 wins, Kape will try to extend his winning streak to four and climb the ranks. This fight is almost guaranteed fireworks!
Unfortunately, this bout has been canceled due to medical issues. We wish Perez a speedy recovery and, hopefully, this bout can be rescheduled shortly.
Chidi Njokuani vs Albert Duraev
We're starting the main card off with a bang! Njokuani is a knockout artist. He's won 64% of his wins via KO/TKO, including his two UFC victories. His last fight went his way until it didn't. Njokuani took some time to recover and improve, so let's see what he brings to the table here.
Albert Duraev is no easy task, though. He did lose his last fight via doctor stoppage against Joaquin Buckley. But, prior to that, the Russian was riding a ten-fight winning streak. Only one fighter can return to their winning ways, let's watch and see who wants it more.
Round one: Right away. we can tell that Njokuani is a huge dude. Chidi is feeling things out with feints, but once he commits to a body kick, he gets taken down. Duraev gets to the back, locks Chidi up with the Dagestani handcuff move, and is landing at will. However, the hometwon fighter is able to work his way back up to his feet. Not for long, though; an inside trip returns Njokuani to the mat.
Round two: Every round starts on the feet! Duraev is no slouch in the striking department. A spinning backfist from the Russian glances. Albert is feeling himself in this round. He's got some swag in his step and he's popping his jab like he's the striker in this equation. Njokuani is giving the threat of a takedown a bit too much respect in my opinion. Chidi lands a straight right and it's the best shot of the fight so far. As the round ends, the Texas crowd lets it be known that they aren't exactly feeling the lack of action.
Round three: A huge kick to the body nearly tips Duraev over, but he taunts as a rebuttal. Albert remembers that he can wrestle pretty well, so he's fishing for takedowns against the cage, but Njokuani's defense holds up and they separate. Round three has Njokuani a bit more active that the preceding rounds, but I believe it's too little, too late.
Official result: Albert Duraev via split decision