A few new UFC bouts are revealed for upcoming fight cards, including a re-booking of an exciting bantamweight fight. Below are the newest matchups, along with my first thoughts 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 first supposed to occur at the cancelled UFC 233 event, was first reported by ESPN’s Ariel Helwani. Lineker (31-8) is 12-3 overall from the UFC including a 6-1 mark since moving up fulltime to the bantamweight division. He is 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 has consistently been among the very exciting lighter-weight fighters in the UFC for years and will always be in the hunt for a bonus on any card that he fights on.
Sandhagen (10-1) is 3-0 in the UFC and is now on a five-fight win series overall which comprises stoppage wins over Iuri Alcantara and Austin Arnett in the Octagon. He’s beginning to look like a top prospect at 135lbs and has earned this matchup against Lineker, even though it won’t be an easy one to win by any means since Lineker is a superb test for him. I certainly think Sandhagen will be a live puppy here and worth a look as the younger fighter, but Lineker deserves to be the favorite 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 first reported by MMABetz. Yakovlev (23-8-1) is just 2-4 overall from the UFC and has not competed since a submission reduction to Zak Cummings in November 2016. Before that, Yakovlev lost a choice to Kamaru Usman and it was presumed by many that he was retired at this time. Clearly that isn’t true as he’s booked for a different struggle, but the fact he’s been away for nearly 3 years is obviously concerning. Yakovlev does hold notable wins over Paul Daley and Gray Maynard, but he has been very inconsistent in the UFC.
Packalen (8-2) is just 1-2 in the UFC and hasn’t 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 from the UFC, but generally he has been a small letdown in the Octagon. This is a fight between two guys who have been inconsistent in the UFC and that have not fought in forever, so flip a coin . I hope Yakovlev is going to be a tiny favorite here since the struggle is in Russia, but he’s not really someone you can trust with your cash.
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