Marlon Vera and Cory Sandhagen are expected to make pyrotechnics in their main event clash. Iridium Sports Agency, Vera's agent, broke the news on Friday. The fight is scheduled for Feb. 18 and will take place inside the UFC Apex in Las Vegas.
Vera and Sandhagen, ranked fourth and fifth in the bantamweight division, are dangerous volume strikers with cardio and submission skills. Vera and Sanhagen have a collective finishing rate of 74%, not content with including the judges.
Vera (20-7-1) is putting the puzzle together at a high level. Vera, who is on a four-fight winning streak, knocked out former UFC champions Dominick Cruz (a KO of the Year candidate) and Frankie Edgar. With retiring double-champion Henry Cejudo and Sean O'Malley on the roster of title candidates, a win over Sandhagen should put "Chito" on the shortlist. Merab Dvalishvili is also in the mix, although his August victory over Jose Aldo was deemed boring and uninspired by UFC president Dana White.
Sandhagen (15-4) was predicted to be a future world champion by commentators and fans, but he has failed at the highest level. In September, he ended a two-fight losing streak by slicing apart Song Yadong for a fourth-round TKO. On one end of the spectrum, there are highlight-reel knockouts of Edgar and Marlon Moraes and losses to Petr Yan, T.J. Dillashaw, and Aljamain Sterling. If someone dethrones Sterling as champion, Sandhagen's path to the global title may be shortened.