UFC San Antonio will feature a whole slew of great matchups in the lighter divisions, closing with top male bantamweights Marlon ‘Chito’ Vera and Cory Sandhagen in the main event and top female bantamweights Holly Holm and Yana Santos.
The bantamweights are closing the show, but it’s the flyweights that have solid, entertaining matchups throughout the whole card. There’s Alex Perez and Manel Kape as well as Andrea Lee and Maycee Barber who are all trying to work their way up the top 15 on the main card. The prelims also have explosive flyweights with matchups between CJ Vergara and Daniel da Silva as well as Victor Altamirano taking on the debuting terror, Vinicius Salvador
Main Card (4:00 PM PST)
Chidi Njokuani vs. Albert Duraev
Njokuani: -163 Duraev: +133
Over 1.5: -109 Under 1.5: -117
With finishes in all of their UFC appearances except for one fight, this matchup is sure to bring the action. Njokuani was looking like a destroyer in his first two UFC fights with two 1st Round finishes. He was looking to get a third in a row against Gregory Rodrigues and ALMOST got it by giving him one of the worst cuts I’ve ever seen. Sadly, he was then finished in the second round. Duraev hasn’t been as successful, winning his debut in a close decision. But he got shredded apart by Buckley.
After watching the tape, Duraev just hasn’t looked all that clean, getting hit at will by Buckley. With Chidi holding the longest reach in the division and ridiculous skill and power, I think it’s going to be a rough night for Duraev. I’m predicting a brutal finish for Njokuani.
Njokuani by Finish
Alex Perez vs. Manel Kape
Perez: +150 Kape: -186
Over 2.5: +137 Under 2.5: -180
There are some exciting flyweight matchups on this card and this is the one with the highest stakes. Perez was near the top of the rankings, but was SMOKED by the next title challenger, Pantoja. Meanwhile, Kape has been steadily rising up the ranks with incredible performances in all of his fights and 3 wins in a row. Kape has proven himself to be very well-rounded and extremely dangerous. Since Perez now hasn’t won in 3 years and was finished in his last fight, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Kape grab another highlight reel finish.
Kape by Finish
Andrea Lee vs. Maycee Barber
Lee: +210 Barber: -267
Over 2.5: -267 Under 2.5: +200
This one is a lot closer than the odds are suggesting. Barber used to be hailed as the next great female champion. I’m a fan, but I just haven’t seen any hint of that in her last few fights. She’s simply been using her size in the clinch and on the ground to win decisions. Lee, on the other hand, takes a more aggressive approach, looking for damage at all times. Barber may be able to nullify a lot of the damage with control, but it still seems like Lee is going to edge the decision. We’ve talked about how damage is the main judging criteria, this could be one of those matchups that is heavily impacted by that criteria.
Lee by Decision
Nate Landwehr vs. Austin Lingo
Landwehr: -220 Lingo: +175
Over 2.5: +100 Under 2.5: -129
Landwehr made himself known to the world in his last matchup, overcoming early adversity against David Onama and giving us one of the wildest fights of the year. He may not be the cleanest fighter, but he’s got some next-level toughness and grit and that’s how he’s been winning his fights. From what I’ve seen, Lingo likely won’t be able to withstand that kind of barrage. Lingo may be able to survive until the final bell, but it’s more likely that he’ll be overwhelmed by the pressure of Landwehr and get finished late.
Landwehr by Finish
Holly Holm vs. Yana Santos
Holm: -250 Santos: +200
Over 2.5: -300 Under 2.5: +220
On paper, the clear choice is obviously going to be the former champ, Holly Holm. That being said, Santos, formerly known as Kunitskaya, has proven to be quite the contender and is almost a decade younger. Holm has seemed like the number 2 contender for quite a while, but was recently, and somewhat controversially, beaten by Ketlen Vieira. To make it more complicated, Santos just beat Vieira in 2021. I’ve been going back and forth on this matchup, but, I’ll have to side with the veteran Holly Holm one final time. She’s got the fight IQ and the striking to give Santos a hard time, especially after a long time off.
Holm by Decision
Marlon Vera vs. Cory Sandhagen
Vera: +136 Sandhagen: -167
Over 4.5: -163 Under 4.5: +125
Vera has been on a roll with 4 straight wins and two HUGE finishes over Frankie Edgar and Dominick Cruz. While it’s an impressive run, he’s always done it the same way; land a couple of big shots here and there to win a razor thin decision or get a finish. Sadly, against an elusive, high-volume, championship-level striker like Sandhagen, that simply isn’t going to work. Cory lost a controversial split decision to Dillashaw, then had a fairly close fight with one of the best boxers in the UFC, Petr Yan. I’m sure it’ll be close, but Sandhagen is too smart, well-rounded and elusive for Vera; he should win a decision here.
Sandhagen by Decision
BLU’s Prelim Picks (Prelims begin at 1:30 PM PST)
Vinicius Salvador vs. Victor Altamirano
Salvador: -117 Altamirano: -106
Over 1.5: -186 Under 1.5: +142
The story of both of these prelims is the “flyweight under” trend that we’ve been seeing lately with flyweight men earning an unusually high number of finishes lately. After watching Salvador on the Contender Series last season, I’ve been waiting for Salvador to make his debut. He’s one of the biggest, most powerful flyweights I’ve ever seen and has the striking skills to back it up. Altamirano has looked decent in his UFC fights, but hasn’t made any big waves yet. He’s talented, but I think Salvador’s size and skill will be a problem and will lead to a sensational finish.
Salvador by Finish
CJ Vergara vs. Daniel da Silva
Vergara: -250 da Silva: +200
Over 1.5: +142 Under 1.5: -184
Speaking of Altamirano, he actually finished Daniel da Silva in his last fight. It’s because of that quick finish and da Silva’s other quick losses, that it seems likely Vergara will get a finish here as well. Despite those losses, I actually find da Silva to be extremely talented; his problem is that his fight IQ and chin are questionable at best. On the other side, Vergara has been thrown to the wolves in his UFC journey with his 3 fights being Ode Osbourne, Kleydson Rodrigues and Tatsuro Taira. Before those fights, he was getting quick knockouts, I think this is a perfect opportunity to grab one in the UFC
Vergara by Finish
BLÜ’s Best Bets
Here I highlight some betting lines that you might want to take advantage of for UFC San Antonio. These are odds that favour the bettor. Although some of them may conflict with my picks, they offer a fair reward for a slight bit of risk.
The Underdog Lucas Alexander at +133
Alexander seems to be a victim of his last fight. He was thrown in there against Brito, an extremely aggressive, skilled finisher and was handed a loss in his debut. In that little time though, he showed enough skill that it seems like Peterson is going to have some problems. Also, if we even look at their records, the matchup seems to favour Alexander. Peterson is sitting at 19-10 while Alexander is now 7-3 after that loss. At +133, it’s worth a bit of risk.
The Underdog Andrea Lee at +210
Whenever you’ve got two women close in the rankings, it really can go in either direction. With that in mind, from a betting standpoint, it’s better to take the underdog. Odds aside, Lee has been pretty impressive in her last few fights and looking dangerous. Meanwhile, Barber hasn’t really looked all that impressive against similar fighters. At +210 there’s absolutely no reason NOT to take this bet.
The Underdog Yana Santos at +200
The same concept behind betting on Lee can be used here. It’s a close matchup and it’s better, in the long run, to take the underdog. In comparison to the previous matchup, this one’s a little more volatile with the experience and skill of Holm compared to Santos, but it’s still worth a sprinkle even if it’s to hedge some of your parlays.
The Short Run
Vergara + Kape + Landwehr
The Long Run
Vergara + Njokuani + Kape + Landwehr + Sandhagen