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LineStar® Weekly Knockout (UFC) - Fight Night Yadong vs. Sandhagen

Chris Guy (MMA Expert)
Chris Guy (MMA Expert)
We’re Back With Another LineStar Weekly Knockout!
Written by LineStar contributor, combat sports enthusiast, and practitioner, Chris Guy.
Instagram: @therealsethgeko & Twitter: @DadHallOfFamer

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Main Card
Song Yadong (+165) vs Cory Sandhagen (-200)
Yadong: DK: $7k |Sandman: DK:$9.2k
Yo, don’t sleep on this one.  This will be the modern-day version of Priscus vs. Verus fighting to the death in the Colosseum.  The two gladiators fought beyond exhaustion for hours, and when they could no longer lift the weapons they carried, they fought with bare hands.  Ancient MMA.  They wrestled, defended takedowns, fought off chokes, ground and pounded each other with legal knees to the head of a downed opponent, scratched, clawed, head-butted, and even bit each other.  Grab his d!ck and twist it!  The ol’ d!ck twist!  Yep, that was in play too.  Anything goes in a fight to the death. 
In the end, both Gladiators were declared the victors after submitting simultaneously.  The fight was the first ever FOTN and awarded the first post-fight bonus, freedom from slavery.  These were the original savages, ancient moon-howlers, two guys that would suplex Khamzat Chimaev and bite off his face like they smoked bathhouse bath salts.  That savageness still exists in the hearts of man and will be on display this weekend when Song Yadong and Cory Sandhagen meet in the center of the present-day Colosseum.
Cory Sandhagen is a slick striker who fights with his hands low and uses range twofold, defensively to stay outside the opponent’s strikes and offensively to attack from the fringe.  He crouches in his stance and likes to bait opponents into counters by sticking his head out, trying to elicit strikes so he can pull-counter.  Sandhagen fights long, using long-range teeps and side-kicks to set up sharp straight punches.  On the mat, he has a solid ground game with an active guard, in which he creates scrambles and can use submission attempts to get back to his feet. 
Sandhagen is the textbook example of an effective flashy striker.  He uses flashy spinning and flying techniques like fundamental strikes.  You can land anything if you know how to set it up.  Cory sets up the flying knee by sliding back in the pocket almost as if in retreat, drawing the opponent’s pressure forward right into the knee.  He set up the spinning wheel kick that knocked out Marlon Moraes by putting a distracting jab in Moraes’s face and using it to spin off.  Look for Sandhagen to use the flying knee whenever Song Yadong lowers his head and comes forward with aggressive power shots.
The Sandman has a singular Donner Party path to victory against the little bull Song Yadong, on the feet, using lateral movement to matador Yadong’s heavy hooks and overhands.  Song’s power can overwhelm fighters, but Sandhagen’s only fear of death is reincarnation, and he’ll be wearing a tailor-made three-piece gasoline suit, ready for a walk through hell.
Sandhagen by the numbers:  For his career, Sandhagen is 14-4 with six TKO/KO’s and three subs and 7-3 in the UFC with four TKO/KO’s and one sub.  He will be the higher output striker, averaging a tick under six and a half significant strikes landed per minute compared to Yadong’s five.  Sandhagen is currently riding a two-fight losing streak and is 2-3 in his last five scraps, but all three L’s came to former/current champions, T.J. Dillashaw, Petr Yan, and Aljamain Sterling.
Song Yadong is the perfect blend of power and speed and is one of the most effective wrestler strikers in the UFC.  Yadong is a minimalist striker, surviving in the Octagon with only the most primitive weapons, a lead hook, right cross, and power uppercut.  He primarily uses those three strikes in combination, and his special move is the 2-3-2 (cross-hook-cross) combination.  Hiding the uppercut behind the lead hand is an often neglected and deadly combination, but Song uses the hook-power uppercut combo as a fundamental attack, and it usually leads to a fight-ending sequence.
But a recall has been issued for one major flaw in Yadong’s design.  Yadong uses his right hand to engage noinety percent of the time (fictitious stat).  He becomes a little too predictable, and the key will be finding new ways to engage and keeping his attacks from going stale.  Yadong lacks footwork from the outside, so he relies on explosive athletic ability to close the distance with his cross like a wrestler shooting a double leg.  
In his most recent bout, Song Yadong beat Marlon Moraes like life did Delonte West.  He overwhelmed Moraes from the jump and put him away early in the first round with the aforementioned hook-uppercut combination, leaving Moraes looking like a baby getting a diaper change on a Koala Kare station in the mall bathroom.  But let me get to the real impressive shit; Yadong is riding a three-fight winning streak and is 8-1-1 in the UFC with wins over Chito Vera, Casey Kenney, Julio Arce, and Marlon Moraes.  His only loss was a close scrap against the little dynamo Kyler Phillips.
Dynamically, Sandhagen is the better striker, but Yadong can mask a lot of shortcomings with his speed and power if he can consistently get inside of Sandhagen’s long reach.  Sandhagen will enter as the sizeable (-200) favorite and Yadong the (+165) dog.  Variety is the spice of life and tastes like the dust at the bottom of a Cinnamon Toast Crunch bag, and Cory Sandhagen’s biggest advantage is his variety of strikes, from kicks to knees to spinning attacks.  And Yadong is mostly a boxer with occasional heavy leg kicks.  Yadong will have to get out of his comfort zone and mix things up to win this fight.  The value for Yadong is in a finish; I don’t think he can output the slicker striker for five rounds unless he scores some knockdowns along the way.  A Yadong TKO/KO will return (+325) odds, but Sandhagen has only been finished once in his career by submission.
If you’re not subscribed to the Linestar YouTube channel, get on that.  As the card fell apart last week, we had to scramble to put the new picks on wax and did so live as the news was breaking in real-time.  Those picks went 3-0; more importantly, Nate Diaz kicked off a new main event-winning streak when he submitted Tony Ferguson with his trademark guillotine.  Here’s to number three: Cory Sandhagen via decision.
Winner: Cory Sandhagen | Method: Decision
Sandhagen 85
Sandhagen 85
The Ol' D!ck Twist!
The Ol' D!ck Twist!
Chidi Njokuani (-125) vs. Gregory Rodrigues (-105)
Njokuani: DK: $8k | Deebo: DK: $8.2k
They call him RoboCop; I call him Brazilian Deebo, but you should call him Mr. Rodrigues.  Soft ‘s’ not a hard ‘z.’ You don’t want to upset this guy, and you sure as hell don’t want to bring your Huffy six-speed anywhere near him.  
“What bike?” 
Gregory Rodrigues is an Op, an undercover savage on the mat and standing on the feet.  He’s a tough out for most fighters in the middleweight division, and we really haven’t seen the full arsenal of his ground game yet.  This weekend, he’ll have to bust out his slick Jiu-Jitsu against another marauder on the feet, Chidi Njokuani.  Chidi is a dangerous technical striker with an entire career of experience before making it to the UFC.  This right here is a USDA Certified Prime Banger.
After losing by KO to Jordan Williams, Gregory Rodrigues went on a 5-1 run, including 3-1 in the UFC.  His only L was left at his feet after he was bound and gagged and thrown in a handicap stall with Ryan Lochte in a southern Nevada Valero bathroom.  A Mt. Rushmore group of dead presidents stole from him at gunpoint the dub he had earned in the Petrosyan fight.  It was yet another armed robbery of hundreds reported at that Valero that has gone uninvestigated.      
Deebo has a boxing style on the feet with heavy power in his right hand.  He uses subtle slips and counters and has tight, short punches that he throws in short combinations.  Rodrigues averages six significant strikes per minute and is more than capable of maintaining a heavy pace.  But where Rodrigues is different than most is his grappling.  He has smooth, effortless transitions to the back and immediately looks for the dominant position as soon as the opponent’s ass hits the mat.  Rodrigues has a grappling advantage over most in the division, and his clearest path to victory against Chidi is takedowns and submission attempts.  Rodrigues is 12-4 for his career with six TKO/KO’s and four subs and 3-1 in the UFC with two KO’s.  
Chidi “Bang Bang” Njokuani took a Jeep commercial route, weaving through sprawling hills and monster truck rally terrains to make it to the UFC.  He’s the younger brother of Anthony Njokuani, who fought for the WEC and UFC, and both brothers are known for their explosive technical kickboxing.  Njokuani is a rarity in today’s UFC in that he has a full resume and extensive experience fighting UFC-caliber fighters before making his debut.  
Chidi has a career record of 22-7, and five of his losses came to former UFC fighters.  He has notable MMA wins over Melvin Guillard, Andre Fialho, Max Griffin, and Alan Jouban.  “Bang Bang” has also fought at the highest level of kickboxing, having faced the legends Raymond Daniels and Joe “Stitch ‘Em Up” Schilling.   
You can only descridbe Chidi’s striking as professional, collar shirt, tie, slacks, and a Double Windsor.  His reactions are honed to a razor-sharp edge, and his strikes are like Stevie Wonder playing poker; no tells.  They seem to materialize out of nowhere.  It’s like his jab starts at his chin and teleports to your face.  His level of experience speaks through his flawless technique, making it known he can stand and Bang Bang with anyone.     
This one is basically a toss-up with Rodrigues as the slight (-120) early favorite.  You can’t go wrong with either of these fighters on your Fantasy roster.  Both have paths to a finish, Njokuani on the feet and Deebo on the mat and feet.  A Gregory Rodrigues submission with return (+500) odds and is his most likely means of a finish.  Three of Chidi’s seven career losses came by submission.  Deebo can hurt Chidi on the feet too, but Chidi is a strong defensive fighter with a ton of striking experience.  A TKO/KO for Chidi will return (+300) odds and is drencehd with value.  His sharp hands and a complete arsenal of kicks will be a lot for Deebo to handle on the feet.  I have zero idea who wins this.  Chidi Njokuani via TKO, round 3.
Winner: Chidi Njokuani | Method: TKO Rd.3
Chidi 70
Chidi 70
Drop that dub
Drop that dub
Andre Fili (-130) vs. Bill Algeo (+100)
Fili: DK: $8.3k | Algeo: DK: $7.9k
Andre “Touchy” Fili vs. “Oh-No Mr. Bill” Algeo.  These guys will generate enough kinetic energy with their constant movement in the cage to power all the Teslas in California.   Both guys have the dog in them and are aggressive, high-energy fighters who always make for competitive scraps even when matched up against superior talent.  This could steal the fight of the night honors and should be a crunchy lil’ banger. 
If you’ve ever driven by a car wash or used car lot, you’ve seen the inflatable wavy arm blow-up men dancing out front.  Those are black belt students under Bill Algeo, and they will defend their Sensei’s honor at the flip of an on switch.  Bill Algeo rocks a payless Wonderboy style to school, complete with a Detroit Urban Survival Training trapper keeper.  His hand speed is ten to thirteen-day economy shipped from India and travel halfway across the world to reach the target.  But Algeo is fun and creative and throws every strike ever invented.  He continually peppers from the outside with a wide variety of kicks and long punches and never stops moving, much like… a wavy arm blow-up man.  
He has the same power, too.  Algeo’s strikes bounce off the target and make squeaky dog chew toy sounds.  They sound like the horn on a Fisher Price Cozy Coupe.  But he stays busy and is durable; he wears your best shots like a clearance Men’s Warehouse three-piece suit and keeps coming forward.  Algeo is also a strong grappler and super tough to submit.  In Algeo’s most recent fight, ol’ Herbert Burns had Algeo all but choked out in the first round, but Algeo refused to tap and survived.  He went on to crack Burn’s ass in the second round to the point that Burns literally just laid down and refused to get up.
Andre Fili has had a hell of a eighteen-fight UFC career dating back to 2013.  Although his 9-8-1 UFC record isn’t overwhelmingly impressive, Fili has fought almost every big name in the featherweight division.  He has underrated dynamic striking and can fight naturally out of both stances.  Most fighters who switch stances just fake the funk and can only throw very limited strikes and fall apart defensively.  But Fili uses tactical stance switches to set up specific strikes like head kicks and overhands, depending on the opponent’s defensive weaknesses.
On the mat, Fili is a seasoned grappler with excellent defensive Jiu-Jitsu and is tough to take down unless you’re Bryce Mitchell.  Fili is an accumulative finisher, using volume over extended periods to batter and break his opponents.  If Fili ends up on his back, he’s a good scrambler that won’t accept the position without trying to get back to his feet.
This is another Vegas toss-up, but I give Andre Fili the advantage in power and speed.  Fili is a more dangerous striker than Algeo and will land the more impactful strikes.  I think a finish for either fighter is a long shot; a Fili win by points will return (+150) and Algeo (+175).  Andre Fili via decision.
Winner: Andre Fili | Method: Decision
Fili 62
Fili 62
Joseph Pyfer (-500) vs. Alen Amedovski (+340)
Pyfer: DK: $9.7k | Amedovski: DK: $6.5k
Joe Pyfer’s nickname is Bodybagz, and he fights like the Notre Dame Fighting Irish logo straight out the 1800s.  The smooth canvas surface of the Octagon will be a big step up for a fighter used to engaging in fisticuffs on cobblestone roads inundated with urine and feces due to a lack of a public sewage system.  Pyfer made the jump to the UFC after defeating Bill the Butcher via second-round TKO in a hand-to-hand melee on the Contender Series.      
Pyfer will be making his promotional debut after competing twice on the show, having lost his first bout to Dustin Stoltzfus after suffering a freak elbow injury.  Joe has a career 9-2 record with six TKO/KO’s and two subs.  He has heavy mechanical strikes on the feet with some wrestling and ground and pound in his back pocket.  From what little I’ve seen of Pyfer, he looks to be a solid all-around fighter and will be 1-0 after his bout with Alen Amedovski. 
Amedovski is 0-3 in the UFC and hasn’t shown much in the way of competitiveness in any of those bouts.  He did go the distance with Jotko Krzysztof, but Jotko has the same finishing rate as too many shots of whiskey and a date that looks like Li Jingliang.  And I think two of the three rounds were 10-8’s.  Pyfer is the massive (-450) favorite, but you can get plus money for a TKO/KO (+110) and a submission (+250).  The submission odds are extra juicy.  In his last bout, Amedovski was knocked down and submitted with a rear-naked choke, and I’m getting a sense of déjà vu.  For Amendovski, the odds this is his last UFC fight are (-5000) and already seeing a lot of action.  Joe Pyfer via rear-naked choke, round one.
Winner: Joe Pyfer | Method: Rear-Naked Choke Rd.1
Tanner Boser (-175) vs Rodrigo Nascimento (+145)
Boser: DK: $8.8k | Nas: DK: $7.4k
This is an ugly fight.  Bubba Sparxxx ugly, Jay-Z Super Ugly.  Both these guys are huge and won’t hesitate to exchange heavy hands.  If it stays standing, one will be hooked up to the sleep apnea machine and propped up on the Sleep Number mattress next to Dak Prescott.  Tanner Boser is a former Love’s truck stop intercontinental champion and the more technical striker of the two, and Rodrigo Nascimento has hands the size of chanclas and looks like he’s swatting at June bugs when he strikes.  He’s built like he wears his shirt in the pool and has bouncer takedowns in his back pocket in case he’s getting pieced-up Willie on the feet.
There’s two ways to play this one: One, a Tanner Boser TKO/KO, and two, a Rodrigo Nascimento submission.  Boser will have the speed advantage and is the more diverse striker on the feet, and Nascimento will have a big grappling advantage on the mat.  If Nascimento decides to stand and bang, he’ll likely get KO’d.  He throws heavy, wide punches, and Boser will beat him down the middle and eventually land a fight-ender.  But if Nascimento can tie up Boser and drag him to the mat, he’ll have a good shot at taking Boser’s back and sinking a choke.
Nascimento is 8-1 for his career with a one hundred percent finishing rate, two TKO/KO’s, and six subs.  He’s 2-1-1 but should be 3-1, but the commission overturned his last TKO victory over Alan Baudot.  Boser is 20-8-1 for his career with eleven TKO/KO’s and two subs, and 4-3 in the UFC.  He’s coming off a second-round TKO of the most head-scratching, perplexing fighter of all time, OSP.  In almost thirty career fights, Boser has only been finished once and never by submission.
Boser will be the (-190) favorite, mostly because of his technical advantage on the feet and seventy percent takedown defense.  Tanner has also gone the distance against Ciryl Gane.  The value for Boser is a TKO/KO and will return (+170) odds.  The value in Nascimento is in takedowns, top control, and a possible submission.  A Nas submission is valued at (+375) and would likely be his method of victory should he win the fight.  But give me Tanner Boser via TKO, round three.
Winner: Tanner Boser | Method: TKO Rd.3
Boser 77
Boser 77
Value Menu
“Fluffy” Hernandez (-175) vs Marc Andre Barriault(+140)
Fluffy: DK: $8.7k | Barriault: DK: $7.5k
This card has sleeper matchups from top to bottom.  These Fight Night cards consistently provide more bangers than PPVs.  Fluffy Hernandez is a sleeper submission specialist with solid stand-up, and Marc Andre Barriault is the type of dude to hop out the El Camino at the light when you honk because the light turned green a half second ago.  Hernandez is more of a carefree freestyler in the cage who just flows wherever the fight goes.  He has a rare Dodo bird feather in his cap from when he submitted the most decorated submission grappler in MMA, Rodolfo Vieira.  And Marc Andre is a mean, ornery grinder with Nolan Ryan boomer striking on the feet with sneaky power.
When I look for scraps to bet on, I look for the fights with the best chances of ending in a finish.  Method of victory is the quickest way to turn Jacksons into Grants and increase the Mary Jane piggy bank funds.  Marc Andre has finished ten of his fourteen career dubs with noine TKO/KO’s, and Fluffy submitted six of his noine career wins.  Barriault will have a power advantage on the feet, but Fluffy Hernandez will have a distinct grappling advantage if he can relocate the fight.
A Hernandez submission will return (+300) odds… Grab the Piso Mojado signs.  Barriault has only been finished once in his career and never by submission, but Fluffy has sneaky head/arm chokes, D’arce, Anaconda, and modified guillotines, and he never stops attacking subs.  He’s the definition of a submission over position grappler.  But Fluffy can get got on the feet.  He has slick movement and sharp boxing, but he lacks power and doesn’t thrive in a stand-up bout without the threat of a takedown.  The chances that Marc Andre lands something heavy between Fluffy takedown attempts are high, and a win by TKO/KO will also return (+300).  And the over/under for two and a half rounds is even money.  But I think the play here is a finish for one of these guys.
Fluffy 77
Fluffy 77
Cameron Vancamp (+175) vs Nikolas Motta (-220)
Vancamp: DK: $6.9k | Motta: DK: $9.3k
You know I always got love for the first fight of the night.  This one’s a classic striker vs. grappler matchup that could provide game-changing finishing points.  Nikolas Motta is an aggressive barbarian on the feet with heavy wide hooks and overhands and nasty round kicks, and Cameron Vancamp is a submission Bob Ross with a variety pack of submission dubs on his professional record.  Vancamp can submit you from the top or bottom position and loves to choke people on some evil sadist type-ish.
In his UFC debut, Nikolas Motta was stopped at the bridge of death by the gatekeeper Jim Miller and couldn’t answer the questions three.   The final question stumped him: What is your favorite color?  It was a tricky question, given the fight was at the end of February, a time of year between winter and spring, and the choice between lavender and pastel tones is always tough.  But don’t let that performance fool you; Nikolas Motta can sleep you quick.  Motta reminds me of a mini Shogun Rua when he fought in the Pride promotion in Japan; he throws heavy round punches with severe hand speed and aggression.  Motta is the overall (-220) favorite, and the odds for a Motta TKO/KO are (  ).  He’ll have a big advantage on the feet if he can keep the fight standing.
But don’t sleep on a Cameron Vancamp submission valued at (  ).  He made his debut at welterweight against Baby Sinclair, Andre Fialho, and was KO’d in the first round, but he threw himself straight into the fire and went into full on kill-or-be-killed mode.  He died.  But he’s back from the dead and can submit Motta if he can drag him to the mat.  This should be a dope lil’ banger; don’t miss it.
Motta 75
Motta 75
Twenty-Twen-Twen Sleepers
Twenty-Ten-Twen Sleepers
The dogcatcher was busy snatching up all the stray dogs, and the neighborhood is awfully quiet this week. The pickings are slim, but usually, the main event provides a viable underdog, and that’s the case this week.
Song Yadong (+165) has physical attributes that are hard to overcome. His dog status is the result of utilizing a far less versatile attack than Cory Sandhagen. Like a Chito Vera, or like we saw last week with Julian Erosa, Sandhagen uses all his weapons to create damage, whereas Yadong is mostly a boxer with limited combinations in his repertoire. BUT, big but, Yadong is fast and explosive and can get inside on Sandhagen and create heavy damage. At least early in the fight.
Loooooong Shot: Damon Jackson (+155) is facing Pat Sabatini in a grappler vs. grappler matchup, and Jackson will be at a technical disadvantage. But he has a trick up his sleeves, and he only wears tank tops. Jackson’s specialty is guillotine chokes, and he hunts for them for the entirety of the fight. Pat Sabatini shoots a lot of double legs, and the guillotine choke is a natural defense. Sabatini will have to throw up the W and protect his neck for the full fifteen minutes. But this will be the third straight grappler vs. grappler matchup tailor-made for Sabatini’s strengths. A Jackson submission is a long shot, but still better odds than the Cowboys winning four games this year or me winning a Fantasy football matchup.
Pick ‘Em
“Fluffy” Hernandez (-175) vs. Marc Andre Barriault (+140)
            Winner: Fluffy Hernandez
            Method: D'arce Choke Rd.3
Damon Jackson (+155) vs. Pat Sabatini (-190)
            Winner: Pat Sabatini
            Method: Decision
Aspen Ladd (-140) vs. Sara McMann (+110)
    Winner: Aspen Ladd
            Method: Decision
Trevin Giles (-220) vs. Louis Cosce (+175)
    Winner: Trevin Giles
            Method: TKO Rd.3
Denise Gomes (+185) vs. Konklak Suphisara (-230)
    Winner: Konklak Suphisara
            Method: Decision
Trey Ogden (+230) vs. Daniel Zellhuber (-310)
    Winner: Daniel Zellhuber
            Method: TKO Rd.3
Mariya Agapova (+125) vs. Gillian Robertson (-150)
    Winner: Gillian Robertson
            Method: Rear Naked Choke Rd.2
Tony Gravely (+130) vs. David Basharat (-180)
    Winner: David Basharat
            Method: Decision
Cameron Vancamp (+175) vs. Nikolas Motta (-220)
    Winner: Nikolas Motta
            Method: TKO Rd.2
Thanks for reading LineStar Weekly Knockout! We’ll be back next Thursday with another one. Until then, good luck and support your local MMA Gym.
About Me
My name is Chris Guy, and I’m an avid combat sports enthusiast and practitioner. I’ve been a fan of MMA since the early 2000s when Limewire was still around, and I downloaded Bas Rutten’s Big Book of Combat. In 2004, I started training Muay Thai at City Boxing in San Diego, CA. I competed as an amateur for many years, and I’ve also dabbled in Jiu-Jitsu. I follow many different disciplines, such as Combat Ji-Jitsu, Muay Thai, Glory Kickboxing, Boxing, and MMA.
I’m equally as enthusiastic about the craft of writing, and in addition to writing about combat sports, I also write short fiction and music. I hope to bring unique prose to sports writing, and along the way, encourage people to not only become Martial Arts fans but to also become Martial Artists themselves. 
In the future, you may see me refer to the Thunderdome; it’s an ode to the old Mad Max movie and refers to the world-class training facility I built in my one-car garage. It’s complete with throw dummies, wrestling mats, heavy bags, and six months’ worth of Chef Boyardee cans from when I thought the world was going to end back in March. I hope you enjoy my work, and if you don’t, the Thunderdome has an open door policy. 
Check out my Podcast The Whiskey (S)ick Podcast on Apple and Spotify. Parental Advisory Warning
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Chris Guy (MMA Expert)
Chris Guy (MMA Expert) @LineStarApp


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