A couple new UFC bouts have been revealed for upcoming fight cards, including a re-booking of an exciting bantamweight fight. Below are the new matchups, along with my first thoughts on them.
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 first supposed to take place at the cancelled 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’s coming off of back-to-back wins over Brian Kelleher and Marlon Vera, with a loss to TJ Dillashaw sandwiching his previous win streak that included him getting his hand raised over John Dodson, Rob Font, Francisco Rivera and Michael McDonald. He has consistently been one of the most exciting lighter-weight fighters in the UFC for years and will always be in the hunt for a bonus on any card he fights on.
Sandhagen (10-1) is 3-0 in the UFC and is currently on a five-fight win streak overall which includes 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, though it won’t be an easy one to win by any means as Lineker is a great test for him. I definitely think Sandhagen will be a live dog here and worth a look as the younger fighter, but Lineker deserves to be the favorite here based on his body of work in 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 takes place April 20 at Yubileyny Sports Palace in St. Petersburg, Russia. The bout was first reported by MMABetz. Yakovlev (23-8-1) is just 2-4 overall in the UFC and hasn’t competed since a submission loss to Zak Cummings in November 2016. Before that, Yakovlev lost a decision to Kamaru Usman and it was thought by many that he was retired at this point. Clearly that isn’t the case as he’s booked for another fight, but the fact he’s been off for almost 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 hasn’t fought since a KO loss to Marc Diakese in March 2017. All eight of Packalen’s career wins have come by finish, including a bonus-winning submission over Thibault Gouti in the UFC, but in general he has been a bit of a letdown in the Octagon. This is a fight between two guys who have been inconsistent in the UFC and who haven’t fought in forever, so flip a coin here. I expect Yakovlev is going to be a small favorite here because the fight is in Russia, but he’s not really someone you can trust with your money.