The UFC goes to San Antonio, Texas, this week, and it's giving the crowd a Bantamweight main event sure to provide high pace action between Marlon "Chito" Vera +133 and Cory Sandhagen -172. This card features plenty of close matchups with live underdogs, so I will break down each fight from a betting perspective.
Odds provided by Stake.com accurate as of 7:00 AM EST 3/24/2023
All action main event here between top tier Bantamweight contenders. Marlon Vera is one of the most dangerous finishers in the UFC with an insane knockdown rate that has resulted in a run to the division's elite since his win over Sean O'Malley despite a low-volume style. Cory Sandhagen is a very technical fighter with a high pace, creative striking, and a tricky ground game that he has used when he had that advantage.
I've got Sandhagen here as he will be winning most of the minutes in this fight, which I expect to go all five rounds as both men are very durable. I will play both the over in rounds and Sandhagen by decision, as I believe his high fight IQ will earn him a win against a very durable Vera.
Pick: Sandhagen O/U: Over 4.5 -161
Veteran Bantamweights return from long layoffs here. Holly Holm comes off a close loss to Ketlen Viera, where she looked far from her old self as she was outstruck and relied on her grappling to remain competitive rather than her classic boxing. Yana Santos has been off for nearly two years, although going into her last fight, she was valued as near even with Irene Aldana in a high-stakes clash.
Considering the position of both fighters, these odds are very wide, so I'll pick Santos. I am confident this fight will go the distance, so I will play Santos by decision.
Pick: Santos O/U: Over 2.5 -294
Chaos is expected in this Featherweight battle. Nate Landwehr returns after his wild win over David Onama, where he showed his high pace and durability. Austin Lingo has a series of fast finishes in LFA where he showed both power and grappling ability, although he has gone the distance in each of his UFC fights.
This fight should have lots of action, and both fighters will have moments, but I don't understand these odds as Lingo should have a durability edge, and other than cardio, I give no clear edge to Landwehr.
Pick: Lingo O/U: Under 2.5 -130
Flyweights are trying to make a run in the newly revived division. Andrea Lee has had her ups and downs in the UFC, having dominant showings like her fight against Antonina Shevchenko, but she has yet to show the same skill against higher-level competition. Maycee Barber has had a lot of hype behind her since coming off Dana White's Contender series, and as a result, she has competed with the best in the division from a young age showing her strength.
I like Barber here as she will be the aggressor and could dominate this fight from the top position. As one of the few favorites, I trust I will pair her with Tucker Lutz to bring their prices down.
Pick: Barber O/U: Over 2.5 -263
Intriguing matchup here at Flyweight. Alex Perez is a well-rounded fighter who has struggled to get much in-cage action over the last several years. Manel Kape is a flashy kickboxer with an aggressive submission game, although I question his approach to fights at times as he can be very low-volume.
I'll take Perez as the underdog in this fight as he has an advantage in grappling and could be the more active fighter on the feet as well.
Pick: Perez O/U: Over 2.5 +139
Finishers collide in this Middleweight matchup. Chidi Njokuani is a power puncher who entered the UFC with two quick knockout wins. Albert Duraev is a strong grappler, although he is coming off a tough loss to Joaquin Buckley, where he was dominated.
I've got Duraev in this one, as he should have a large grappling edge, and his striking is not a weakness in the way some think it is.
Pick: Duraev O/U: Under 1.5 -116
Featherweights return from layoffs in this one. Daniel Pineda has looked rough in his last few fights, being finished by Cub Swanson and being saved by an eye poke against Andre Fili. Tucker Lutz is coming off a tough loss to Pat Sabatini; however, prior to that, in his UFC debut, he looked fantastic mixing his striking and wrestling to dominate a lesser opponent.
I'll take Lutz here as he has shown that he can compete at the UFC level, and after his last few showings and his age, I expect little from Pineda. I'll pair Lutz with Maycee Barber to get a better price on each of them.
Pick: Lutz O/U: Under 2.5 -200
Fun fight here at Featherweight between a grappler and a striker. Steven Peterson is a durable grappler. Lucas Alexander returns after a disappointing debut where he was submitted early, although he still has dangerous striking.
I'll pick Peterson here because he is so difficult to finish, and he should have a decent grappling edge, although I do not have a confident read on this fight.
Pick: Peterson O/U: Over 2.5 -139
Good action here at Welterweight. Trevin Giles has displayed a good skillset in the UFC, including his powerful striking that works off his strong jab and an ability to compete with strong grapplers. Preston Parsons is a submission specialist who rarely makes it into the late portions of the fight as he is very fast-paced.
I really like Giles here as he has a massive advantage in the striking and will be able to avoid the submission attempts of Parsons and finish him.
Pick: Giles O/U: Under 2.5 -175
This Flyweight matchup is expected to last briefly as these two are quick finishers. CJ Vergara is a tough fighter with heavy hands and a solid wrestling game. Daniel da Silva is a wildman who is known for having short fights as he throws everything at his opponents early in an attempt to finish, although his cardio doesn't last late into fights.
I've got Vergara here as he has shown his durability and is on another level to Silva. Considering the pace that Silva fights at, I will bring the price down by playing the knockout prop.
Pick: Vergara O/U: Under 1.5 -185
Clash of styles here in this Lightweight matchup. Manuel Torres is a boxer who throws power into his shots, although I have some concerns about his cardio. Trey Ogden is mainly a grappler with little standup, although he is durable and has never been knocked out.
This one is tough to pick as I see Torres having an advantage in the striking early; however, if he fades, there will be an opportunity for Ogden to take over, which makes me lean toward the underdog.
Pick: Ogden O/U: Over 1.5 -135
Flyweight strikers with power in their hands meet to start the card. Vinicius Salvador is a tricky striker with heavy power and a long reach for the division. Victor Altamirano is a high pace fighter who is most comfortable at close range, although he is willing to take a shot to get his offense off.
I like Salvador in this matchup as he has shown real power, and despite having shown durability, Altamirano is very hittable.
Pick: Salvador O/U: Over 1.5 -185
Alex Perez +146
Albert Duraev +152
Trevin Giles -118
Vinicius Salvador -119
Marlon Vera vs. Cory Sandhagen Over 4.5 Rounds -161
Cory Sandhagen by Decision +121
Yana Santos by Decision +320
Trevin Giles by TKO/KO +255
CJ Vergara by TKO/KO -159
Maycee Barber + Tucker Lutz -116