UFC San Antonio Preview and Predictions
The UFC is back on the road, as the octagon has found its way to Texas for UFC San Antonio. More importantly, the event has a bantamweight main event between Marlon Vera and Cory Sandhagen that almost guarantees violence. The remainder of the main card has a balance of ranked bouts and entertaining fights to help round out a solid main card. The Vendetta Sports Media preview team is here to break down each fight and provide a prediction. Our yearly prediction records are listed below.
James Herrick: 24-18-2
Garrett Burroughs: 25-17-2
Jerry Walker: 15-16-1
Anthony Miranda: 18-15-1
Chidi Njokuani vs. Albert Duraev (Middleweight):
James: UFC San Antonio is set to open with a middleweight bout between Chidi Njokuani and Albert Duraev.
Njokuani and Duraev are both looking to rebound after their first UFC losses. For Njokuani, he lost his last bout against Gregory Rodrigues, despite landing a knee that caused one of the worst cuts in UFC history. That loss put his UFC record at 2-1, but he has a ton of experience outside of the promotion. Meanwhile, Duraev lost his last fight to Joaquin Buckley which moved his UFC record to 1-1. Outside of the UFC, Duraev went 8-0 in ACA, one of the top Russian promotions, which led to a reasonable amount of hype.
Duraev and Njokuani are polar opposite fighters. Njokuani is a dynamic striker that is a problem for any middleweight on the feet. Njokuani can technically land power strikes with his hands, elbows, knees, and feet. It is literally impossible to ask for anymore. On the flip side, Duraev is a powerful wrestler with solid takedowns and ground control. The one area in which Njokuani and Duraev are similar is that they can each be finished if a fight gets tough and drawn out.
This fight is a tough one to predict because it is easy to see how each fighter wins. The one factor that persuades me toward either direction is Njokuani’s BJJ. The striker has slowly been improving his grappling and has begun to round out his game. I think that helps him find victory in this fight. Plus, he should be able to land big strikes while the pair are standing. I will take Njokuani by first-round knockout.
Garrett: Njokuani via decision
Jerry: Njokuani via KO/TKO
Anthony: Njokuani via KO
No. 6 Alex Perez vs. No. 9 Manel Kape (Flyweight):
James: Ranked flyweights Alex Perez and Manel Kape find themselves on the UFC San Antonio main card.
Perez is one of the top fighters in the flyweight division; however, he may be the king of canceled bouts. Since 2020, he has fought twice while having ten fights canceled. It certainly does not help that he lost both of those fights. In fairness, those losses came against Alexandre Pantoja and Deivesion Figueiredo. Overall, Perez has had a strong run in the UFC thus far as he has tallied a 6-3 UFC record. Meanwhile, Kape has won three consecutive fights to bring his UFC record to 3-2. Prior to joining the UFC, Kape went 6-3 in RIZIN against some of the top flyweights outside of the UFC.
This fight should be a fun one. Kape is one of the most explosive strikers in the flyweight division. His speed and power have helped him find UFC success with his hands. Kape’s boxing is also backed up with solid leg kicks and great knees. Perez will have a tough time beating Kape on the feet. If he does, it will likely be a result of landing his incredibly powerful leg kicks. Instead, wrestling with be his best path to victory. Even though Kape has solid takedown defense, Perez will need to land takedowns and neutralize Kape’s explosiveness.
I like Kape in this fight. If Kape can keep this fight standing for a reasonable amount of time he should be able to find a knockout shot. I will take Kape by second-round knockout.
Garrett: Perez via decision
Jerry: Kape via KO/TKO
Anthony: Kape via TKO
No. 11 Andrea Lee vs. No. 13 Maycee Barber (Women’s Flyweight):
James: At UFC San Antonio, women’s flyweight prospect Maycee Barber will look to keep her momentum rolling against Andrea Lee.
Barber, 24, was one of the most promising prospects in the UFC, but she dropped consecutive fights to women’s flyweight champion Alexa Grasso and Roxanne Modafferi. After those losses, she rebounded with three consecutive wins. Now, she sits with a solid UFC record of 6-2. Meanwhile, Lee has established her position in the women’s flyweight division with a 5-4 record in the UFC.
In this fight, Barber will have a large advantage in physicality. In turn, she will likely look to control Lee in the clinch and pin her against the fence. The issue is that Barber does not have takedowns, so it’s unlikely that she advances from that position. Barber will probably opt to land hook and elbows in close instead. If Lee can avoid the clinch, she will be much better at range and will likely land a lot of straight shots.
I have a hard time seeing Lee overcome the strength and physicality deficit in the clinch. If that holds true, Barber will stack up control time. I will take Barber by decision.
Garrett: Barber via TKO
Jerry: Barber via decision
Anthony: Barber via decision
Nate Landwehr vs. Austin Lingo (Featherweight):
James: Do not expect to see high-level MMA when Nate Landwehr and Austin Lingo take the octagon at UFC San Antonio; however, it is safe to expect a lot of violence. Landwehr and Lingo are both super-durable fighters with really good cardio. Each fighter has found success with that style. For Landwehr, that has come in form of a 3-2 UFC record and a 5-0 record in M-1 Global. Meanwhile, Lingo has a 2-1 UFC record and a 9-1 career record.
In this fight, Landwehr and Lingo will likely spend the majority of the fight exchanging hands. In between the two, Lingo has more power while Landwehr will throw more volume. If these two go to the ground, Landwehr will have a large advantage with submissions as he has underrated chokes.
I will take Landwehr in this one. This fight should come down to which fighter has better toughness, durability, and cardio. I have a hard time picking against Landwehr in that type of fight. I will take Landwehr by decision.
Garrett: Landwehr via decision
Jerry: Landwehr via decision
Anthony: Landwehr via decision
No. 3 Holly Holm vs. No. 6 Yana Santos (Women’s Bantamweight):
James: In the co-main event of UFC San Antonio, combat sports legend Holly Holm will face off against Yana Santos.
Holm, a former UFC champion, is still fighting at the top level of the sport even though she is 41-years-old. Not to mention, she has gone through a ringer of tough competition throughout her UFC tenure, which only makes her 7-6 record more impressive. In this fight, all of the questions surround Santos despite her being the far younger fighter. This is because Santos has not fought since July of 2021, and recently had a baby. That inactivity will make it difficult for Santos to enter the cage in top form.
Even though Holm is known for being an elite striker, due to her boxing and kickboxing experience, that is not as large of a part of her game plan at this time in her career. At this point, Holm spends a lot of effort to control her opponent up against the fence. That is probably smart as she is still one of the strongest women’s bantamweight, but she isn’t quite as fast as she used to be. On the other hand, Santos is a quality muay thai striker and does a lot of good work in the clinch.
I have a hard time seeing Santos’ path to victory here. I think Holm is the better striker on the inside. In the clinch, Santos could do a lot of strong work, but Holm can neutralize that threat by pushing Santos up against the fence. I will take Holm to win by decision.
Garrett: Holm via submission
Jerry: Santos via decision
Anthony: Holm to win by decision
No. 3 Marlon Vera vs. No. 5 Cory Sandhagen (Featherweight):
James: The main event of UFC San Antonio is about as good as a fight night main event gets. This bantamweight bout between Marlon Vera and Cory Sandhagen is an intriguing bout that promises violence. Plus, the winner will be deeply ingrained in the UFC bantamweight title picture. I don’t what else you could want out of a fight night main event.
Vera and Sandhagen are both incredibly experienced with outstanding wins under their belts. More impressively, each fighter reached that level of MMA at just 30-years-old. Between the two, Vera has more UFC fights on his resume and has gone 14-6 in the promotion. Although, he has recently hit a stride in his career, winning four consecutive fights. Sandhagen has not been as successful in recent memory as he has gone 3-3 over his last six bouts. That is nothing to be ashamed of though as all three of those losses have come against UFC champions. Overall, Sandhagen has gone 8-3 in the UFC.
This fight has fight-of-the-year potential. Vera and Sandhagen are remarkable strikers that are willing to throw down. That is was I expect to see at UFC San Antonio.
On the feet, Sandhagen is going to throw with a lot more volume. He throws a lot of punches and will mix shots to the head and the body. Sandhagen also has the ability to land massive knees and slicing elbows which provide him with more finishing upside than his hands would suggest. Vera, on the other hand, fights with a very low output. Although, he has maximized that style.
Vera has an outstanding fight IQ which he uses to set up massive power strikes. For most fighters, that is unsustainable, but Vera is smarter and more powerful than most fighters. Vera has power in his hooks and kicks which allows him to easily deal damage, win rounds and finish fights.
I am not sure if this fight will find its way to the mat. Sandhagen has shown an increase in takedown attempts as of late, but Vera has great submission skills that could prevent Sandhagen from attempting takedowns.
I have a really hard time picking a side in this fight. I could talk out of both sides of my mouth and tell you how each fighter could get a win. Although, the word predictions is in the title of this post for a reason. If I am forced to make a pick, I will take Sandhagen. I think the volume will help him win enough rounds to help him walk away with a decision victory. I will take Sandhagen by decision.
Garrett: Sandhagen via decision
Jerry: Vera via decision
Anthony: Sandhagen via TKO
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