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UFC San Antonio Odds, Pick & Prediction for Marlon Vera vs. Cory Sandhagen: Count on ‘Chito’ in Championship Rounds (Saturday, March 25)

UFC San Antonio Odds, Pick & Prediction for Marlon Vera vs. Cory Sandhagen: Count on ‘Chito’ in Championship Rounds (Saturday, March 25) article feature image

Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC. Pictured: UFC bantamweight Marlon Vera of Ecuador

  • Two of the world's top bantamweight fighters clash in Saturday's UFC San Antonio main event on ESPN.
  • Cory Sandhagen is the favorite over fellow 135-pound contender Marlon Vera.
  • Below, Sean Zerillo breaks down the headliner and shares a few ways he's betting on "Chito" in the five-round fight.

Marlon Vera vs. Cory Sandhagen Odds

Vera Odds
Sandhagen Odds
4.5 (-160 / +130)
AT&T Center in San Antonio
9 p.m. ET
Odds as of Saturday and via DraftKings

The UFC is at AT&T Center in San Antonio on Saturday for an 11-fight card featuring a bantamweight showdown between No. 3-ranked contender Marlon “Chito” Vera and No. 5 Cory Sandhagen.

Vera enters on a four-fight winning streak and will compete in his third consecutive main event after scoring wins and performance bonuses against Rob Font and Dominick Cruz last year.

Sandhagen enters his fourth consecutive main event – just 1-2 in his past three fights. Still, both losses were narrow decisions against former champions T.J. Dillashaw and Petr Yan.

Below, I’ll provide my analysis and projections and utilize those factors to bet on the main event for UFC San Antonio: Vera vs. Sandhagen, which airs entirely on ESPN (4:30 p.m. ET) with a simulcast stream on ESPN+.

Tale of the Tape

Avg. Fight Time12:1111:29
Weight (pounds)136 lbs.135.5 lbs.
Reach (inches)70″70″
Date of birth12/2/19924/20/1992
Sig Strikes Per Min4.286.15
SS Accuracy50%44%
SS Absorbed Per Min5.014.21
SS Defense51%56%
Take Down Avg0.680.71
TD Acc42%20%
TD Def68%63%
Submission Avg1.10.4

Saturday’s UFC San Antonio main event should be a high-paced war between two dynamic strikers.

Sandhagen is taller, the more efficient striker (+1.94 to -0.73 significant strike differential per minute), and likely the superior wrestler. And Vera typically starts slowly in the opening round to read his opponent and gather his timing.

As a result, Vera often puts himself in a hole and either needs to rally to win three of the final four rounds to secure a decision, or finish his opponent, displaying a similar pacing to Petr Yan.

Vera often trails on striking volume against his opponents. Still, he typically wears damage well and lands the more impactful shots, forcing judges to weigh Vera’s impactful moments against his opponent’s overall minute-winning and output.

Chito’s five-round decision over Rob Font is a prime example: Vera trailed 273-167 on total strikes after 25 minutes but won a unanimous decision (and four of five rounds on two scorecards) thanks to a noticeable difference in damage and power.

Vera ate 199 head strikes from Font, but his face was spotless after the bout. He absorbs damage incredibly well, which provides excellent optics for the judges.

Based on career averages, over 25 minutes, Sandhagen should attempt nearly 100 more strikes (roughly 350 to 265) than Vera. But if Vera wobbles Sandhagen twice and has the two most significant moments of the fight, it may not matter.

Bettors who wager purely on metrics or use fight stats to model fights likely fade Vera consistently. I attempt to combine math with scouting – in all aspects of my handicapping – and I appreciate Vera’s style.

Specifically, I’m uncertain that Sandhagen will deal well with Vera’s pressure. Sandhagen may be moving forward early, dictating the pace and leading the dance. Still, I expect Vera to become the pressuring fighter late – with Sandhagen working off the back foot – as the fight develops and Vera eventually opens up

Both men are exceedingly durable – and likely to withstand the damage the other provides – even in a high-paced affair. The likeliest finish, in my opinion, is a Vera submission. He’s a slick finisher on the mat, and Sandhagen has holes in his submission defense. A club and sub, in which Vera takes the back against a wobbled Sandhagen, is live too.

Moreover, I expect Vera to have superior cardio in the championship rounds. Vera always seemed built for five-round fights – because his tendency to start slowly can hurt him in three-rounders. He proved the five-round assumption correct in his past two wins, increasing his pace as his fights wore on – and looking like a world-beater in the fourth and fifth rounds.

Conversely, Sandhagen had his best moments early in each of his past three fights (all five rounders), and I thought the tide was turning against him in his win over Song Yadong before the cut stoppage:

Saturday’s fight should be close and competitive throughout, and it may be difficult for the judges to score round winners. I expect any decision to be razor thin on the margins, but the betting market suggests that Sandhagen is far likelier to secure the scorecards if the bout goes the distance.

While Sandhagen should get out to an early lead, given Vera’s first-round tendencies, that presents a phenomenal live betting opportunity on the underdog, whose price should peak after Round 1 before he fully steps on the gas pedal.

Vera vs. Sandhagen Pick

I projected Cory Sandhagen as a 62.2% favorite (-165 implied odds) in this matchup, so I don’t see value on either side of the pre-fight moneyline.

However, you will likely find a better number on Vera live after Round 1, so you might as well wait for the peak price on the underdog.

I see slight value concerning the total, projecting this bout to reach a decision 59% of the time (-142 implied); however, I would prefer to bet Vera to win by decision (projected +562, listed +600 at DraftKings) rather than laying juice on the total.

Given the cardio dynamics, you can also place a same-game parlay (SGP) with Vera and the Over 2.5 Rounds (+300), the same way I bet him for his fight against Dominick Cruz – and generally, how I would prefer to bet on “Chito” Vera in any five-round fight.

The pace and optics of this matchup will not align with a typical “Over” wager; both fighters strike at high volume, but they are highly durable for their weight class.

Still, I expect Vera to be the more effective fighter in the championship rounds, and I give him more decision equity than the betting market.

The Picks:

  • SGP: Marlon Vera & over 2.5 rounds (+300 at DraftKings, 0.15u)
  • Marlon Vera wins by decision (+600 at DraftKings, 0.1u)
  • Marlon Vera live after Round 1

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