A bantamweight match between No. 3 ranked Marlon Vera and No. 5 ranked Cory Sandhagen headlined Saturday’s UFC San Antonio fight card in Texas.
Vera entered the bout on a four-fight winning streak while Sandhagen snapped a two-fight losing streak with a win over Song Yadong in his last outing. Despite Vera’s winning streak, Sandhagen was a small betting favorite.
Sandhagen switched stances in the early going. Both men stood directly in front of each other. They exchanged leg kicks and Sandhagen pressed forward with a right hand. Sandhagen pressured Vera before looking to get the fight to the ground. He took Vera down and delivered punches and elbows. Vera opened up a cut on Sandhagen with an elbow from the bottom, but the opening round was all Sandhagen.
Sandhagen continued to pressure Vera in the second round. He connected with a combination before changing levels and taking Vera down. Vera applied a guillotine choke but Sandhangen escaped. Sandhagen delivered left hands and moved to side control. Vera scrambled to his feet with 90 seconds remaining in the round. Heading into the third, Sandhagen was up two rounds.
Vera pressed forward in the third. Sandhagen landed a combination. Vera defended a takedown attempt and connected with a clean left hand. Sandhagen stepped into the pocket with an uppercut. Vera shook off a second takedown attempt from Sandhagen. Sandhagen answered with a combination. It was a much better round for Vera.
Sandhagen looked to get the fight to the ground early in the fourth but Vera defended the attempt. He defended two more attempts to get the fight to the ground by Sandhagen. Sandhagen leaped in with a flying knee that partially landed. Sandhangen pressed forward with a combination. Vera connected with a combination. The round ended and it looked as if Vera needed a finish to win.
Sandhangen continued to switch stances and be difficult to track down. He secured a takedown and delivered short left hands. Vera got to his feet and Sandhangen quickly worked to get him back to the ground. Vera separated and landed an elbow on the break. Sandhagen’s output remained high in the final frame. Vera landed a spinning back kick. He caught a kick from Sandhagen but Sandhagen got his leg feet. In the final seconds, Vera went for broke but it was unable to land that fight-ending shot.
The judges scorecards were a bit all over the place. The scorecards read 48-47 for Vera, 50-45 for Sandhagen, and 49-46 for Sandhagen.