This past Saturday night in the main event of UFC San Antonio, we saw a pivotal matchup in the bantamweight division. Former interim title challenger Cory “The Sandman” Sandhagen (16-4) was taking on the surging Marlon “Chito” Vera (22-8-1).
You couldn’t get much hotter than Chito Vera entering this past weekend. Vera had won four fights in a row including two head kick knockouts over former champions Frankie Edgar and Dominick Cruz. That said, Sandhagen was his biggest challenge yet in his winning streak and the challenge proved to be steep.
Chito Vera has one major flaw in his fighting style. There are slow starters and then there’s Chito Vera. Vera almost always takes the first round off to download his opponent. Sometimes, that downloading period goes into the second round. On Saturday night, Vera did nothing for the first two rounds.
With a guy as good as Sandhagen, you can’t afford to give two rounds away and that’s what Chito did. He tried to fight with some urgency in the third round and might’ve won that one. However, the hole he dug himself was too big overall.
In the end, Sandhagen picked Chito apart and Chito could never build any momentum. The deficit was too big and everyone outside of a crazy judge on Saturday night scored a landslide victory for Cory Sandhagen.
Who is next after UFC San Antonio?
Chito Vera is one of the best bantamweights in the world. You cannot deny that he’s sensationally good. However, when you’re taking on the best of the best that 135 has to offer, you cannot give rounds away the way that he does. He has to figure out a way to get started faster.
Vera has been active on social media after the fight and made no excuses for his poor performance. In fact, he made a callout in which I think he’s spot on.
Vera called out former UFC champion Petr Yan. Yan is currently on a three-fight losing streak. Granted, one of those losses was an extremely controversial loss to Sean O’Malley. Another one was a very close split decision loss to champion Aljamain Sterling.
However, he was completely dominated by Merab Dvalishvili just weeks ago. Coming off that loss, him and Chito Vera are in a very similar spot. Just seems like the logical fight to make for all involved.