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UFC San Antonio: Five Things We Learned

UFC San Antonio Cory Sandhagen Marlon Vera

(Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC)

UFC San Antonio Cory Sandhagen Marlon Vera
(Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC)

UFC San Antonio: Five Things We Learned

UFC San Antonio lived up to the hype. The main event between Cory Sandhagen and Marlon Vera showcased high-level MMA. Unfortunately, the bout was relatively one-sided which took away from the entertainment value. Outside of that, the card featured a handful of fun fights and solid finishes. Now, all that is left is to recap the action and discuss what we learned at UFC San Antonio. 

1. Cory Sandhagen is one of the best Bantamweights alive

At UFC San Antonio, Cory Sandhagen proved once again that he is one of the best bantamweights alive. There were questions surrounding Sandhagen at one point. This largely came after he lost consecutive fights against Petr Yan and TJ Dillashaw. However, since then, Sandhagen has continued to legitimize his status among the bantamweights. In his last fight against Song Yadong at UFC Vegas 60, he proved he was an elite fighter, but at UFC San Antonio he showed he was a level above that. 

In the main event of UFC San Antonio, Sandhagen thoroughly took care of Marlon Vera. The most impressive parts of his performance were his game plan and cardio. This started with early takedowns that yielded a lot of ground control time and a good amount of grounded elbows, preventing Vera from making reads in striking exchanges. While the pair were standing, Sandhagen constantly pressured Vera with either strikes or feints. Still, he did not abandon his traditional horizontal movement and stance switches; instead, he just added another element to his movement. This helped him confuse Vera and control the bout. Lastly, his cardio helped him maintain this game plan at a high level for four rounds. 

This win over Vera solidified Sandhagen as one of the best bantamweights in the world. A dominant win over Vera sets him apart from other elite bantamweights and elevates him to a higher status in the division. Still, he has a few tough stylistic matchups ahead of him that could prevent him from getting UFC gold. 

2. Holly Holm is still in title contention 

Former UFC champion Holly Holm proved she is still in title contention at UFC San Antonio. The UFC veteran was able to easily take care of Yana Santos. This was not the prototypical Holm performance either. Holm usually utilizes her outstanding kickboxing to control fights but, later in her career, she began to control fights in the clinch. In this fight, she was able to land takedowns and control the fight on the ground.

Holm has now won three of her last four fights with the only loss being a controversial decision loss to Ketlen Vieira. That impressive run has put Holm’s name back in title talks. The women’s bantamweight division is not ripe with contenders which will only aid Holm’s path to the top again.

3. Nate Landwehr is a dog

Nate Landwehr is a very interesting fighter. For the most part, this is because of how he pairs his toughness with his skills. At UFC San Antonio, Landwehr slowly built momentum as the fight progressed. Landwehr used his toughness to take some damage while he caught onto Lingo’s timing. Once that happened, he was able to counter Lingo with a lot of powerful shots. Landwehr also added kicks to the body to hurt Lingo. Eventually, he began pouring it on and was able to find a finish.

I am not going to sit here and tell you that Landwehr is an outstanding fighter because he has a good amount of flaws. At the same time, he is not a fighter that most featherweights want to fight. His toughness, chin and ability to push a pace make him an undesirable opponent.

4. Daniel Lacerda is a great, but terrible fighter

Daniel Lacerda has managed to find himself in a position where he has a ton of outstanding skills, but can not win a fight. At UFC San Antonio, he once again displayed the enigma of his skill set. 

Lacerda started off hot in his bout against CJ Vergara. Lacerda had Vergara hurt for a large portion of the first round after landing a spinning wheel kick that put Vergara on skates. However, Lacerda quickly gassed which led to Vergara pulling ahead in the second round before finding a ground-and-pound finish. 

This has been the story of Lacerda’s career. He will start off hot, land a ton of impressive strikes and threaten submissions before eventually gassing out. Before Lacerda gets tired, he looks like he could be a highly-ranked fighter. That will never come to fruition if he can not fight for more than three minutes though. 

Lacerda will likely be cut from the UFC. He has now lost all four of his UFC fights and was finished in each fight. Thankfully, he is only 26. If he can go to the back to the regional scene and improve his cardio. He could still be a threat in the UFC.

5.  MMA judging has more problems than previously thought

I feel like a broken record when I address MMA judging. At this point, we are not even learning anything. It is evident that MMA judging is flawed for a ton of reasons. I will not go through every single issue with the system, but a new flaw was brought to light in the UFC San Antonio main event. 

In the main event between Cory Sandhagen and Marlon Vera, it was pretty evident that Sandhagen won the fight. Furthermore, you can make the argument that he won all five rounds. At worst, you could give Vera one of the five rounds. With that being said, it was quite a surprise when one of the judges scored the fight in Marlon Vera’s favor. That is one of the worst scorecards of all time. I will not say it’s the worst, but it is up there. 

The part that makes this intriguing is the judge that scored the fight in Vera’s favor has only judged four UFC fights. Credit to UFC reporter Aaron Bronsteter that brought this information to light. The issue is this is a massive fight with serious title implications and an inexperienced judge nearly altered the path of a fighter’s career. It seems pretty straightforward that the judges overseeing the main event should be heavily experienced in scoring UFC fights. Apparently, the Texas State Athletic Commission does not agree, which is an issue.

***

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