UFC San Antonio: About Saturday’s Action

Examining the key talking points and takeaways from Saturday’s UFC return to San Antonio, headlined by elite bantamweights Marlon “Chito” Vera and Cory Sandhagen

Sandhagen Shines

Cory Sandhagen executed exceptionally well to collect a split decision win over Marlon “Chito” Vera to close out Saturday’s fight card. To be clear, this was not a fight that should have been scored a split decision; more on that shortly.

The American contender took the fight to Vera in the first two rounds, putting him on the deck and dominating. Over the final three rounds, Sandhagen continued to switch stances and mix things up well, stymying Vera every time he tried to get going and showing his class throughout. This was an outstanding performance for the Elevation Fight Team member, who has now earned consecutive wins to keep himself in the title conversation.

A local judge, Joel Ojeda, scored the bout 48-47 for Vera, and it’s the worst card I can remember in the last few years. There is no way to make a case for Vera winning three rounds — none; I’m not being hyperbolic — and yet it’s not at all surprising because this is Texas. Ojeda shouldn’t have been scheduled to judge the main event in the first place, but the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulations does this stuff all time, and we have to call it out every time.

Going forward, I like the idea of Sandhagen facing Sean O’Malley, but we’ll get into that more on the Severe Takeaways on Tuesday.

Holm Gonna Holm

Holly Holm continues to round out her game and roll through the group just outside the contender class in the bantamweight division, earning a dominant decision win over former training partner Yana Santos.

The former titleholder took half a round to find her range and rhythm, but once she did, Holm controlled the action. She started landing clean, powerful shots towards the end of the first, and then turned to her grappling in the final two rounds, putting Santos on the canvas and dominating her on the ground. She couldn’t find a finish, but this was a one-sided effort that showed Holm still has something to offer going forward.

After the fight, Holm spoke about protecting children from sexualization and predators, oblivious to the irony of someone whose nickname is “The Preacher’s Daughter” rallying people to protect kids from those two things.

Holm is still a tough out near the top of the division, and that isn’t going to change any time soon. It’s going to be interesting to see who she gets matched up with next and if she’s able to get herself back to one more title fight before calling it a career.

‘The Train’ Rolls On

Nate Landwehr extended his winning streak to three with a second-round submission win over Austin Lingo midway through the main card, turning up the pressure and pace to create the finishing opportunity.

This was expected to be a hard-scrabble affair and it lived up to expectations early, with both men planting their feet and firing hands. But as the first round gave way to the second, Landwehr started having more success, prompting him to press forward and open up more, eventually hurting Lingo with a high kick. From there, “Nate the Train” was full steam ahead, running his opponent to the canvas, climbing on his back, and sinking in the fight-ending choke.

Landwehr is one of those dudes that is never going to be a contender, but is always going to be competitive and ready to put on a show. He inherited the indefatigable featherweight title from Darren Elkins when he beat him a couple years back, and has settled into a nice role as am action-oriented, entertaining veteran in the “Second 15” at featherweight.

Barber Extends Win Streak to Four

Flyweight prospect Maycee Barber landed on the fortunate side of a split decision verdict in her competitive clash with Andrea Lee on Saturday, running her winning streak to four in the process.

This was a competitive fight from the outset, with Barber landing the more telling blows throughout the fight, while Lee had some success on the feet and scored with takedowns. The announce team spent a great deal of time talking about Lee’s control time on the canvas, which was perplexing because control time doesn’t mean anything; damage rules the day, and she wasn’t doing any damage.

Barber still has holes in her game and struggles with her decision-making at times, but she has a grit and tenacity to her that continues to serve her well, as she really doesn’t mind getting punched in the face and throws hard in the pocket when she gets there.

The hype isn’t as great and her upside might be capped, but Barber has developed into a quality Top 10 fighter and could still continue making advances over the next couple years.

Hall of Fame Cowboy

The UFC announced during the main card that Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone would be inducted into the Modern Wing of the UFC Hall of Fame this July as part of the International Fight Week ceremony in Las Vegas.

Cerrone was a guaranteed inductee the second his career ended, but it was still a great moment when the honour was announced on Saturday, as the veteran gunslinger got a huge pop from the San Antonio crowd before his family was brought out to celebrate the announcement with him as a surprise that almost made Cowboy cry.

I spent a lot of time speaking with Cerrone over the years, as we managed to forge a solid relationship, and while it wasn’t always easy or smooth, it became one of my more cherished connections. He’s not someone that opened up willingly or particularly enjoyed doing interviews, but a few in-person interactions and learning how to get him to lower his guard early in calls produced some of the best conversations of my career.

It was a pleasure to watch him compete and nice to see him celebrated for everything he did over the course of his career with this Hall of Fame induction.

Nothing But Finishes

Daniel Pineda has 28 career wins and he’s earned a finish in each and every one of them.

Saturday night, the 37-year-old veteran kept that streak alive with a second-round submission win over Tucker Lutz, latching onto a guillotine choke after hunting a couple other finishes earlier in the round. We talk all the time about all-action fighters and people that put on entertaining scraps every time out, and Pineda has always lived up to that moniker, even though he’s remained an unheralded competitor.

This was another example of the importance of these types of fighters remaining on the roster as well, as Pineda’s experience, savvy, and all-around skills ruled the day against the Dana White’s Contender Series grad Lutz, who was the biggest favourite on the card. We’re seeing more and more instances of veterans getting the better of these pairings, and it is something we should continuing paying close attention to for the remainder of the year.

Perez, Kape Cancelled

The highly anticipated flyweight scrap between Alex Perez and Manel Kape was cancelled during the prelims, with Perez dealing with medical issues in the back ahead of the fight.

Unfortunately, this is nothing new for Perez, who has fought just once since facing Deiveson Figueiredo for the flyweight title in November 2020. According to his Tapology page, this is the ninth fight he’s had cancelled for one reason or another, and the one time he did make it to the Octagon, Alexandre Pantoja choked him out in 91 seconds.

This felt like an opportunity for the talented, but not quite fully established Kape to push into title contention, and now it’s been scuttled. Hopefully Perez’s issue is nothing too serious and the pair can be re-booked quickly, or if it is something significant, Kape can find a new dance partner and a place on an upcoming card in April or May.

Preliminary Card Thoughts

After losing his short-notice debut, Lucas Alexander gave a much better accounting for himself in his first full-camp appearance, getting the better of Steven Peterson in what became Saturday’s final preliminary card fight.

The 27-year-old Brazilian varied his attacks and his targets, hurting Peterson with punches and kicks in all three rounds. He was quick, sharp, and confident, taking the fight to the veteran from the outset and continuing to get the better of things throughout. It was a clean effort from an intriguing featherweight to keep tabs on going forward.

After the bout, Peterson left his gloves on the canvas and called it a career, closing things out on a two-fight slide. While he didn’t have consistent success in the Octagon, “Ocho” was an all-action competitor who served as an excellent measuring stick at the highest level and standout on the regional scene.


Trevin Giles landed on the happy side of a split decision win over Preston Parsons in what was another frustrating fight for the former light heavyweight and middleweight.

The Texas resident was smacking up Parsons with his long, clean jab, but couldn’t keep him from advancing and continued to give Parsons opportunities to have success. The welterweight tandem went back-and-forth for all three rounds, and the scores from the judges and those scoring at home showed the closeness of this contest.

Giles has moments where he looks great, and the jab was beautiful on Saturday, but he can’t seem to put it all together, and it’s maddening, at least for me.


CJ Vergara had to battle through a miserable opening round in order to get a victory at home on Saturday against Daniel da Silva.

The Dana White’s Contender Series grad got put on skates and was forced to scramble early, with da Silva taking the fight to Vergara straight away and refusing to let off the gas over for the first five minutes. But once the bell sounded and the second round began, the roles were reversed, and Vergara took the fight to da Silva, hurting him and securing the finish late in the round.

Like the opening bout, this is another instance of low-end flyweights who are still trying to find their place on the UFC roster, as Vergara is now 2-2, while the genuine madman da Silva is 0-4 with four stoppage losses. Vergara showed a ton of heart and resilience here, and if he can avoid early mistakes, can be someone that rises into the middle of the flyweight ranks in the future.


Michael Bisping compared Vinicius Salvador to Anderson Silva during his introduction and was in the bag for the debuting Brazilian throughout his opening bout with Victor Altamirano, talking about him like an elite prospect when he looks far more raw than ready. “The Count” has been struggling on comms the last few weeks, getting locked into angles and individuals, and the fights suffer for it.

As for the fight itself, both men had some success on the feet throughout the first two rounds and went into the third deadlocked before Altamirano landed early, worked his takedown game, and secured a victory. This was a classic case of the victor having a little more experience and a greater sense of how to execute inside the Octagon, both neither of these guys should be looked at as more than low-end flyweight names for the time being.

E. Spencer Kyte is a veteran MMA content creator based in Abbotsford, British Columbia. He's written for numerous outlets, including FOX Sports and The Province, British Columbia's leading newspaper, and has been a freelance contributor to the UFC website for more than a decade. Follow him on Twitter: @spencerkyte.

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