In the headliner of UFC San Antonio, we saw a battle between two top five bantamweight contenders. Former interim title challenger Cory “The Sandman” Sandhagen (15-4) took on Marlon “Chito’ Vera (22-7-1).
Sandhagen last fought in September and he was able to snap a losing streak. In that fight, he took on Song Yadong and scored a TKO after the fourth round. Sandhagen had sliced open Song and after dominating much of the fight, Sandhagen earned a TKO after the doctor called the fight off.
Entering the octagon tonight, Chito Vera was carrying a four-fight winning streak with wins over Dominick Cruz, Rob Font, and Frankie Edgar. Both wins against the former UFC champions came via knockout. With a win tonight, he was looking to stake his claim to a title shot.
UFC San Antonio Recap
The UFC San Antonio headliner began without a touch of the gloves. Both men meet each other in the center and here we go. Sandhagen opens the striking with a low kick. Vera responds with one of his own. Long combination misses from Sandhagen. Sandhagen holding the center and lands a leg kick.
Vera seems to be just trying to read Sandhagen early on. Another low kick from Sandhagen. Now he goes high with a kick but it’s blocked. Vera plots forward and throws a left. Combination from Sandhagen lands and he finishes with a leg kick. Powerful low kick from Sandhagen and a big left.
Lots of output from Sandhagen early on and Vera is throwing much. Flying knee attempt from Sandhagen is blocked and then he shoots for a takedown. Vera defends well initially but Sandhagen drags him down with a trip. Big elbows from Sandhagen. Completely dominant first round thus far for Sandhagen.
No urgency on the bottom from Vera. More elbows from the top from Sandhagen. Elbow from the bottom from Vera cuts Sandhagen. However, Sandhagen is raining down massive elbows and Vera is in a bit of trouble. No fight from Vera here at all. The round ends and that was not close.
Entering the second at UFC San Antonio and Chito Vera has to do something to earn respect. Sandhagen starts fast again with big kicks. Vera is still now showing any urgency here. Big combination from Sandhagen. Long combination from Sandhagen and he shoots for a takedown.
Vera tries for a guillotine but it’s not close and Sandhagen settles into half guard. More domination from Sandhagen here as he begins raining down elbows. Three minutes left in the round and Vera isn’t even attempting to get out of this position. More big elbows from Sandhagen. Side control now for Sandhagen with two minutes left in the round.
Huge elbows from Sandhagen and this isn’t even competitive right now. However, Vera finally gets back to his feet and now they are striking. Long jab from Vera but Sandhagen answers with an uppercut. Long combination from Sandhagen. Low kick from Vera. Flying knee attempt from Sandhagen.
The round ends and it’s a dominant 2-0 for Sandhagen.
The third starts at UFC San Antonio and Vera’s corner sounded very concerned. He starts with a low kick to get the striking going. High kick attempt from Vera and Sandhagen answers with a combination. Combination from Vera and a front kick lands.
Long jab from Sandhagen and Vera buckles him with a low kick. Vera stepping things up a bit here in the third round. Body kick from Vera and Sandhagen lands a counter hook. They trade jabs in the center. Power leg kick and a huge 1-2 from Vera.
Sandhagen tries to get it back and lands a big uppercut. You can tell the 1-2 bothered him bad and he shoots for a takedown. Vera defends well and pushes forward. Vera on the attack now and lands a left. Counter from Sandhagen lands.
Body hook and then a shot up top from Sandhagen. Front kick to the body from Vera. Head kick now from Vera. Low kick now from Sandhagen. Left hand from Vera lands. Another combination from Sandhagen but Vera answers with big shots.
Nice counters from Vera land. Combination from Sandhagen lands. Vera plots forward and lands a 1-2. Round ends and that could’ve gone to either man.
Entering the fourth and I have it 2-1 Sandhagen at UFC San Antonio. Low kick from Sandhagen starts the striking. Uppercut from Sandhagen and he shoots for a takedown. Big knee and elbow from Vera after defending. Sandhagen is getting desperate for takedowns here in the fourth.
Another beautiful sprawl from Vera but Sandhagen is landing way more in the first 90 seconds. Vera has to get going. Vera trying to cut Sandhagen off but he keeps eating jabs from Sandhagen. Another long combination and a flying knee from Sandhagen. Low kick from Chito Vera.
Left straight now from Vera and Sandhagen answers. More long shots from Sandhagen and he’s just adding to his lead here in the fourth. Low kick from Vera but his strikes are too far between at this point. Combination from Sandhagen.
Nothing going here for Vera. Combination from Sandhagen once again lands. More long jabs from Sandhagen. Vera is moving forward but he’s literally not throwing. Another combination from Sandhagen. The round ends and it’s either 3-1 or 4-0 Sandhagen at UFC San Antonio.
Entering the fifth and I don’t see any way that Vera wins this fight at this point. Combination from Sandhagen starts things off. Lots of volume from Sandhagen and once again Vera isn’t throwing. Sandhagen is just landing at will in the opening minute. Big takedown from Sandhagen and this might be the fight.
Vera tries to scramble but he can’t get up. Sandhagen is landing big elbows and just controlling Vera here. Vera is able to scramble and get back up but he’s not throwing and Sandhagen starts throwing combination immediately.
Two minutes left in this fight and this is all Sandhagen. Vera attempts to throw a big left but it misses badly. Two straight long jabs from Sandhagen. Spinning back kick attempt from Vera. Sandhagen throws a kick and Vera catches it.
He goes to try and get the back of Sandhagen. They break with just under 30 seconds left. Now Vera is moving forward and throwing big but it’s a little too late. The round ends and this will be a lopsided win for Cory Sandhagen.
Cory Sandhagen def. Chito Vera by Split Decision (50-45, 49-46, 47-48)