The UFC returns to the Apex Arena in Las Vegas for the first time in over a month on September 17 for the promotion’s 621st all-time event. A bantamweight clash between top 10 fighters, Cory Sandhagen and Song Yadong, headline the card.
However, there should be plenty of great fights with some feature up-and-comers with a bright future with the organization. Yadong, Gregory Rodrigues, Pat Sabatini, Chidi Njokuani, and Javid Basharat are some of those rising fighters who get to showcase their skills on Saturday afternoon. ESPN+ will stream each of the 14 fights, with the preliminaries starting at 4 p.m. (ET) and the main card at 7 p.m. (ET).
Bamtamweight: Cory Sandhagen vs. Song Yadong
Yadong (19-6-1) is a highly experienced UFC fighter and is fighting for the 11th time under the UFC umbrella, posting an 8-1-1 record. However, he is just 24-year-olds and ranked 10th in the division.
Yadong, on a three-match UFC win streak, is facing his most formidable opponent in the fourth-ranked Sandhagen. Sandhagen (14-4), 7-3 in the UFC, is on a two-bout losing streak though he hasn’t entered the octagon since losing to Peter Yan in a divisional title clash last October.
I believe this is going to be an excellent UFC battle. Both fighters are superb strikers and each likes a quick pace. They also want to put pressure on their opponent.
I am going with The Sandman as he has fought well in his recent losses, which were all to quality opponents. He has all the physical advantages and moves better than the Chinese star. Sandhagen is also a stronger kicker and grappler and has better defensive instincts.
Sandhagen may win by a finish. But it is more likely that this bout goes the distance. Thirty-six percent of Sandhagen’s victories have been via decision, while only one of Song’s losses have been before the final bell.
Prediction: Sandhagan to win (-190)
Best Bet: Sandhagan by Decision (+120)
Other Bet: Fight to go the distance (-150)
Middleweight: Gregory Rodrigues vs. Chidi Njokuani
This middleweight co-main event is between two rising stars with vastly different styles. While I believe it will be an exciting, high-energy fight, I don’t think this bout will last the entire time limit.
Njokuani (22-7), a striker, is 2-0 in the UFC, with both victories coming via first-round knockout. Meanwhile, Rodrigues (12-4) employs a grappling style and is 3-1 in the UFC with two knockouts.
The two fighters have recently matched up against Dusko Todorovic recent;y. Njokuani knocked out Todorovic in his last bout on May 21, and Rodrigues won via decision the previous year.
I’m taking Njokuani to come out victorious due to his pin-point striking and power though his five-inch reach advantage doesn’t hurt either. Bang Bang should get some good shots in at Rodrigues and eventually wear him down as the Brazillian absorbs a lot of hits due to his fighting style.
However, it is not entirely impossible to see Rodrigues squeak out a victory if he gets Njokuani to the ground. Moreover, 69% of Njokuani’s wins ended before the final bell, with the number being 83% for Rodrigues.
Prediction/Best Bet: Njokuani to win (-125)
Other Bet: Njokuani by TKO/KO/DQ (-135)
Other Bet: Fight to end before the final bell (-250)
Featherweight: Bill Algeo vs. Andre Fili
I like Algeo to win in what should be a very competitive but ugly fight as both combatants like to take the match to the mat. But in the end, Algeo is the better striker and has a tad bit more power than Fili. I also like the fight to go the distance, with 43% of Fili’s victories have been decided by the judges, and Algeo has been awarded 38% of his victories.
Prediction: Algeo To Win (+105)
Best Bet: Fight to go the distance (-200)
Another bet: fight decided by submission (+450)
Featherweight: Damon Jackson vs. Pat Sabatini
Sabatini (17-3-0) enters the Octagon on a six-match win streak, including having won all four UFC matches. Jackson (21-4-1) also has a strong record though he is only 4-2 in UFC bouts.
This should be another great fight. While both combatants like to grapple, I believe that Sabatini will be able to remain undefeated within the promotion despite Jackson being a step up in competition for him. As the Philadelphia-area native likes to move around and strike when there is an opening, setting up his superior wrestling ability to win via points.
Prediction: Sabatini To Win (-180)
Best Bets: Fight to go the distance (-200)
Anthony Hernandez (-205) Over Marc-Andre Barriault
Louis Cosce vs. Trevin Giles, Under 2.5 Rounds (-165)
Javid Basharat(-165) Moneyline Over Tony Gravely
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