Cory Sandhagen scored a $50,000 perk on Saturday, but UFC matchmakers need to tip him additional considering he may have just done their tasks for them.
Heading into the UFC Fight Island 5 main event between Sandhagen and Marlon Moraes, the possibility existed that a Moraes win could muddy the waters at the top of the bantamweight division Aljamain Sterling‘s presumed title opportunity is still yet to be revealed. After all, Moraes holds a knockout win over Sterling, probably must have been part of the vacant bantamweight champion bout at UFC 251 instead of Jose Aldo(the guy Moraes beat by split choice at UFC 245), and was already as soon as reserved to deal with future titleholder Petr Yan in June at an occasion that was canceled due to the coronavirus break out.
Long story short, Moraes could have stolen Sterling’s well-deserved title shot out from under him with a strong performance versus Sandhagen; luckily for Sterling, the opposite happened.
It was Sandhagen who looked like the world beater as he took Moraes’ finest shots while establishing the unconventional rhythm that has actually made him such an interesting competitor.
Prior to the fateful fight-ending sequence, Sandhagen was heard shouting, “His orbital’s damaged,” a remark that may have psyched Moraes out and left him susceptible to Sandhagen’s spinning sh t. It wasn’t the only remarkable call-out that Sandhagen would make.
Sandhagen was clear and succinct in his post-fight interview, telling Dan Hardy that he only sees Frankie Edgar and two-time bantamweight champion T.J. Dillashaw ahead of him in the competitors’ line which once he surpasses them he expects to fight the Yan-Sterling winner.
Even coming off of the greatest win of his career, Sandhagen had the great sense not to mess with a Yan-Sterling match. Pay Sterling what he’s worth.
So not just did Sandhagen clear a path for Sterling (who shouldn’t have to fret about Sandhagen leaping the line considered that he holds a current submission win over Sandhagen), he also set himself up for a huge ticket fight with either Edgar or Dillashaw. Presuming Yan and Sterling fight before the end of the year, that leaves Sandhagen to wait until 2021 and Dillashaw just so happens to be eligible to complete again in January.
While it’s conceivable that Dillashaw might discover an immediate title shot waiting for him must Yan not be reserved in the next number of months, that would be the supreme slap in the face to Sterling and fans who care even the smallest bit about the authenticity of the rankings. Keep in mind, what Dillashaw is returning from is a two-year suspension after evaluating positive for EPO. I don’t care that he’s previous champ nor that he never ever lost his title in the cage. He has to fight his method back and that course need to go through Sandhagen.
As for the rest of the competitors, while I’m loathe to provide any credit to my colleague Jose Youngs, he set out a pretty solid strategy that the matchmakers would be a good idea to follow.
The main reason Dillashaw gets the Sandhagen fight rather of Edgar is due to the fact that Edgar must be provided a dream fight with the greatest bantamweight of all-time Dominick Cruz This is just a remarkable matchup on paper that is in some way both a legends’ battle and one that affects the current rankings. There’s no reason these people wouldn’t be interested in a bout that fans have long demanded.
The good news for him is that there’s another enticing top-10 name simply itching to get back in the win column, fellow Brazilian star Pedro Munhoz
The charm of that particular set of matchmaking concepts is that it leaves the door open for the next tier of contenders to arrange themselves out while Yan possibly works his method through Sterling, Sandhagen, Dillashaw, Edgar, or Cruz. Once the dust settles, maybe the likes of Chito Vera, Tune Yadong, Sean O’Malley, Merab Dvalishvili, Cody Stamann, and Brian Kelleher will be prepared to challenge for an upper tier spot.
The matchmakers have options, is what we’re stating. Choices that ended up being a lot clearer due to Sandhagen functioning. Dana White, Sean Shelby, Mick Maynard, and whoever else this may issue, if you’re listening, please make sure to leave a “Thank You” note for Sandhagen in his swank Abu Dhabi hotel room.
And reveal the damn Yan-Sterling fight.