A couple new UFC bouts are shown for upcoming fight cards, such as a re-booking of an exciting bantamweight fight. Below are the newest matchups, along with my very first thoughts on these.
John Lineker vs. Cory Sandhagen, UFC on ESPN 3
The UFC has re-booked 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 occur in 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 is coming from back-to-back wins over Brian Kelleher and Marlon Vera, with a reduction 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 has always been among the most 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 3-0 at the UFC and is now on a five-fight win streak overall that comprises stoppage wins over Iuri Alcantara and Austin Arnett from the Octagon. He is beginning to look like a top prospect at 135lbs and has earned this matchup against Lineker, even though it will not be an easy one to acquire by any means as Lineker is a great test for him. I certainly think Sandhagen is a live dog worth a look at the younger fighter, but Lineker deserves to be the preferred here based on his 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 involving Alexander Yakovlev and Teemu Packalen. The card takes place April 20 at Yubileyny Sports Palace in St. Petersburg, Russia. The bout was initially reported by MMABetz. Yakovlev (23-8-1) is just 2-4 overall in the UFC and hasn’t competed since a submission reduction to Zak Cummings in November 2016. Before that, Yakovlev lost a decision to Kamaru Usman and it had been thought by many that he was retired at this point. Clearly that is not the case as he is booked for a different fight, however, the fact he has been away for nearly three years is obviously concerning. Yakovlev does hold notable wins over Paul Daley and Gray Maynard, but overall he has been very inconsistent in the UFC.
Packalen (8-2) is just 1-2 in the UFC and has not fought since a KO loss to Marc Diakese in March 2017. All eight of Packalen’s career wins have come by finish, such as a bonus-winning entry over Thibault Gouti from the UFC, but generally he’s been a small letdown in the Octagon. This is a fight between two guys who’ve been inconsistent in the UFC and that have not fought in forever, so flip a coin here. I expect Yakovlev will be a small favorite here because the fight is in Russia, but he’s not really someone you can trust with your money.
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