Cory Sandhagen vs. Song Yadong at UFC Fight Night — After the main fight, there are three others to see.


When they battle this weekend in Las Vegas, Cory Sandhagen and Song Yadong plan to help level the bantamweight standings. With marquee contests spread over the second half of 2022, the division continues to establish itself as the deepest and most intense in the sport. Fighters eager to make a statement are tucked beneath Saturday’s bantamweight main event.

The event substitutes a number of intriguing talents that are bubbling outside of the UFC rankings for star power. Since making his long overdue UFC debut in February, Chidi Njokuani has scared opponents with brutal knockouts. It’s a contest between Pat Sabatini and Damon Jackson to see which featherweight grappler is more capable of moving up the food chain.

Below are three fights that are worth seeing in addition to the main event.

Gregory Rodrigues vs. Chidi Njokuani

Since making his UFC debut on “Dana White’s Contender Series” in September of last year, Njokuani has more than lived up to expectations. After leaving Bellator in 2019, the younger brother of UFC veteran Anthony Njokuani has used strikes to defeat all four of his opponents. Njokuani aims to make a perfect three with performance incentives when playing the other team. Over the past few years, Rodrigues has grown comfortable in his position of authority. In five of his most recent victories, he knocked out his opponents, including UFC competitors Julian Marquez and Jun Yong Park. Expect to keep the judges out of this one because neither guy has an impermeable chin.

Pat Sabatini versus Damon Jackson

Under the UFC banner, Jackson and Sabatini are perplexing their opponents. Jackson and Sabatini, two of the more skilled submission specialists in MMA today, have combined for 25 submissions in their 38 victories. Jackson defeated Mirsad Bektic by submission in his UFC debut, establishing himself as a fighter to be wary of. Jackson has only been sent out of the Octagon once thus far, by top-15 featherweight Ilia Topuria. Sabatini made an impressive debut last year by tapping Jamall Emmers with a heel hook in less than two minutes. Sabatini has been faultless inside the Octagon. Watch out for skillful grappling.

Sara McMann vs. Aspen Ladd

The Ladd project has had certain issues. When she made her debut in 2017, she seemed like one of the more exciting newcomers in the women’s bantamweight division. Her UFC career began with knockout victories against Tonya Evinger and Lina Lansberg. Poor results have resulted from her climb up in competition; losses to Raquel Pennington, Norma Dumont, and Germaine de Randamie are wedged between a come-from-behind victory over Yana Kunitskaya. Her struggle to gain weight at 135 pounds is another issue. A bout with McMann, 41, is a logical first step in seeing how much promise Ladd, 27, still possesses. The UFC champion who formerly competed against Ronda Rousey for the Olympic silver medal has alternated wins and defeats in her last four fights and is clearly nearing the end of her career. The battle, which features the only ranked combatants outside of the main event, is unlikely to ignite any pyrotechnics but does have intriguing ramifications.