UFC betting: Marlon Vera earns the nod in great matchup vs. Cory Sandhagen
Since it was announced, there was no fight on the UFC schedule that I have looked forward to more than the one that will headline UFC San Antonio on Saturday between No. 3 bantamweight Marlon "Chito" Vera and No. 5 Cory Sandhagen.
It should be a wild battle filled with punches, kicks, elbows and plenty of scrambles. Each is championship worthy and each has the motivation to put on the best performance of his career in Saturday's bout.
Vera is a strong kickboxer who owns a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, but his recent improvement has come in many ways because of his boxing skills. Coach Jason Parillo has helped him clean up his boxing to the point where it's a strong suit.
The only aspect of his game where he's not at least a B+ may be his wrestling, but he's improved there, particularly as a defensive wrestler.
Sandhagen likes to jab and kick from the outside and he can frustrate an opponent with those strikes. Vera is good at getting inside and is excellent in the clinch.
This, though, is one of those fights where you could make a strong case for either fighter and not be wrong. When the fight was made, I expected the odds to be even, something like -110 both ways. Instead, Sandhagen was made the favorite and on Fight Night Eve at BetMGM, Sandhagen remains better than an 8-5 favorite. Sandhagen is -165 to win with Vera at +140.
Both fighters offer the threat of a finish. Sandhagen is 15-4 and has finished 10 of his wins. He's got seven wins by KO and three by submission. He's been submitted once in his four defeats, that coming by now-champion Aljamain Sterling.
Vera is 20-7-1, but has finished 16 of his 20 wins. He has eight wins by knockout and eight by submission. He's never been finished.
Given how evenly matched these two are, it's going to take a major mistake by one of them for the fight to be a finish. Based on their recent history, I don't see either doing that, so I like this fight to go the distance.
As a result, I'll lay the -150 and bet that the fight goes five full rounds.
I lean toward Vera to win. His recent form has been better and he seems to have more weapons. Sandhagen's got an advantage in both footwork and lateral movement, but Vera was able to stop Dominick Cruz in his last outing even though Cruz had both of those edges over him.
I'll take Vera at +600 to win by decision, rather than betting him at +140 to win. I'll be disappointed, for sure, if he finishes Sandhagen and I don't cash, but I think the odds are heavy that this one goes all five.
More bets for UFC San Antonio:
• I'll lay -225 and bet Nate Landwehr to win over Austin Lingo.
• I'll lay -175 and bet on Manel Kape to win over Alex Perez.
• I'll lay -125 and bet Maycee Barber by decision over Andrea Lee.