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A couple new UFC bouts are revealed for upcoming fight cards, such as a re-booking of a thrilling bantamweight fight. Below are the newest matchups, along with my very 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 initially supposed to occur at the UFC 233 event, 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 full-time to the bantamweight division. He is coming off of back-to-back wins over Brian Kelleher and Marlon Vera, with a reduction to TJ Dillashaw sandwiching his past win streak that included him 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 years and will always be in the search for a bonus on any card that he fights on.
Sandhagen (10-1) is 3-0 at the UFC and is now on a five-fight win series overall which includes stoppage wins over Iuri Alcantara and Austin Arnett from the Octagon. He’s starting to resemble a top prospect at 135lbs and has made this matchup against Lineker, even though it won’t be an easy one to win by any means as Lineker is a superb test for him. I definitely think Sandhagen is a live dog here and worth a look as 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 at Yubileyny Sports Palace at St. Petersburg, Russia. The bout was initially reported by MMABetz. Yakovlev (23-8-1) is only 2-4 overall in the UFC and has not competed since a entry loss to Zak Cummings in November 2016. Before that, Yakovlev lost a choice to Kamaru Usman and it was presumed by most that he was retired at this point. Clearly that is not the case as he is booked for another fight, however, the fact he has been away for nearly 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 only 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 end, such as a bonus-winning entry over Thibault Gouti in the UFC, but generally he has been a bit of a letdown in the Octagon. This is a struggle between two men who’ve been inconsistent at the UFC and that haven’t fought in forever, so flip a coin here. I expect Yakovlev will be a tiny favorite here because the fight is in Russia, but he’s not really someone you can trust with your money.
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