An important bantamweight fight between top-5 ranked contenders Marlon Vera and Cory Sandhagen that was set to headline UFC Fight Night 219 on February 18th in Las Vegas will now be fronting UFC On ESPN 43 on March 25th in San Antonio, Texas instead.
No reason for the shift, which comes just a couple of weeks before they were set to fight, has been given at this stage, though it could be that they were seeking a bigger draw to lead the show in Texas just days after a rematch between No.2 ranked women’s bantamweight Raquel Pennington and the 5th placed Irene Aldana that had been touted as the headliner was met with a muted response from fans.
The news will be a blow for Pennington in particular as it would have been her first opportunity to lead a UFC On ESPN / Fight Night card, though she did star opposite bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes in the main event of UFC 224 back in 2018.
The UFC On ESPN 43 card also currently features the likes of Holly Holm vs. Yana Kunitskaya, Sean Brady vs. Michel Pereira and Maycee Barber vs. Andrea Lee.
Meanwhile, with Vera vs. Sandhagen out of the picture, it’s not clear what the UFC’s plans for UFC Fight Night 219’s main event at the APEX facility in Las Vegas are.
Former flyweight title challenger Taila Santos vs. the 10th ranked Erin Blanchfield is currently the only fight scheduled for the main card, though Jim Miller vs. Gabriel Benitez and Ovince Saint Preux vs. Philipe Lins are also expected to take place at this event.
Ramiz Brahimaj vs. Carlston Harris was also scheduled for the show, but yesterday it emerged that Brahimaj had suffered a neck injury and would have to withdraw from the fight.