A few new UFC bouts have been shown for upcoming fight cards, including a re-booking of a thrilling bantamweight fight. Below are the new matchups, together with my first ideas on them.
John Lineker vs. Cory Sandhagen, UFC on ESPN 3
The UFC has re-booked that a bantamweight bout between John Lineker and Cory Sandhagen for UFC on ESPN 3, which takes place April 27 at American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida. The bout, which was initially supposed to take place at the cancelled UFC 233 occasion, was first reported by ESPN’s Ariel Helwani. Lineker (31-8) is 12-3 overall in the UFC including a 6-1 mark since moving up fulltime to the bantamweight division. He’s coming off of back-to-back wins over Brian Kelleher and Marlon Vera, with a loss to TJ Dillashaw sandwiching his past win streak that included him getting his hands raised over John Dodson, Rob Font, Francisco Rivera and Michael McDonald. He’s always been one of the very exciting lighter-weight fighters in the UFC for decades and will always be in the hunt for a bonus on any card he fights on.
Sandhagen (10-1) is currently 3-0 in the UFC and is currently on a five-fight win streak overall which comprises stoppage wins over Iuri Alcantara and Austin Arnett in the Octagon. He’s starting to look like a top prospect at 135lbs and has earned this matchup against Lineker, though it will not be an easy one to acquire by any means since Lineker is a great test for him. I definitely think Sandhagen will be a live dog worth a look at the younger fighter, but Lineker deserves to be the preferred here according to his own body of work from the UFC.
Alexander Yakovlev vs. Teemu Packalen, UFC Fight Night 149
Also announced was a lightweight bout at UFC Fight Night 149 between Alexander Yakovlev and Teemu Packalen. The card occurs April 20 in Yubileyny Sports Palace at St. Petersburg, Russia. The bout was initially reported by MMABetz. Yakovlev (23-8-1) is only 2-4 overall from the UFC and hasn’t competed since a entry reduction to Zak Cummings in November 2016. Before that, Yakovlev lost a decision to Kamaru Usman and it had been thought by most that he was retired at this point. Certainly that isn’t true as he is booked for a different struggle, however, the fact he’s been away for almost 3 years is clearly about. Yakovlev does hold noteworthy wins over Paul Daley and Gray Maynard, but he has been very inconsistent at the UFC.
Packalen (8-2) is just 1-2 in the UFC and has not fought as a KO loss to Marc Diakese in March 2017. All eight of Packalen’s career wins have come by finish, including a bonus-winning entry over Thibault Gouti in the UFC, but in general he has been a bit of a letdown from the Octagon. This is a fight between two men who’ve been inconsistent in the UFC and who have not fought in forever, so flip a coin here. I expect Yakovlev will be a small favorite here since the fight is in Russia, but he isn’t really someone you can trust with your money.
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