UFC Fight Night 161 Preview And Picks: A Middleweight Grudge Match

Had Marvin Vettori vs. Andrew Sanchez fought when they were initially scheduled at UFC Fight Night 158 in September, the contest would have most likely flown under the radar. That matchup was scratched on fight week when Sanchez was unable to compete due to an eye infection. The aftermath of that cancellation turned the rebooked middleweight bout into a grudge match. The two meet on the prelims of Saturday’s UFC Fight Night 161.

“I’m very sad to announce that my fight this weekend has been cancelled,” Sanchez said on the Thursday before UFC Fight Night 158. “I got a nasty eye infection last Wednesday. I’ve done everything I can to fix this problem. I’ve been to three doctors. Turns out it’s a virus, and it can’t be fixed by prescription medication, and I just have to let it run it’s course, and it’s just one of those things that can’t be helped.”

“I was cutting weight, I was making weight, I was doing everything. I was prepared to fight, but it’s just not going to happen with an eye like this. It’s dangerous, and I want to apologize to the UFC, my friends, my family, my fans, and my opponent. But the good news is we have been rescheduled four weeks from now, October 12th in Tampa Bay, Florida, so we’re going to run it back.”

Vettori, who accepted the fight on short notice, was unhappy about Sanchez withdrawing from the bout.

“The guy is scared, man,” Vettori told MMA Junkie. “He is not a tough guy. I mean, he’s a giant pussy. He bailed on me a year ago, maybe a year ago, or a year-and-a-half ago. He was coming from two losses, he didn’t want to risk to get cut or something like that. And then now, he’s coming off two wins, and then he got a little confident and maybe like, ‘Oh, I can take this risk, but he doesn’t want to fight me as much as I want to crush his face. I don’t want him to mess with my plans and things like that.”

Sanchez didn’t let Vettori’s criticism pass without pushback.

“I get it, I’d be pissed, too, but whatever,” Sanchez told MMA Junkie. “He’s a (expletive) crybaby, he’s an overconfident – I don’t want to curse too much. He’s a (expletive) juice head, he’s probably pissed at his cycle getting thrown off.

“The guy got busted for steroids like two fights back, so it’s going to be the best thing that’s ever happened, and maybe he had his cycle all planned out for my fight and now it’s all out of whack, even playing field. I don’t know.”

Vettori did not get busted for steroids. He did test positive for ostarine during an out-of-competition drug test that was administered by the United States Anti-Doping Agency. Ostarine is classified as a selective androgen receptor modulator (SARMs) The substance has been found in supplements. USADA suspended Vettori for six months. 

Vettori is coming off a July decision win over Cezar Ferreira. Sanchez is on a two-fight winning streak. Both of those victories came via decision.

Pick: Vettori

UFC Fight Night 161 takes place Saturday at Amalie Arena in Tampa, Fla. The entire card streams on ESPN+.

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