Cory Sandhagen is glad to be away from Las Vegas for his next assignment as he looks to move himself back into championship contention in the UFC’s bantamweight division.
Sandhagen was due to face Marlon Vera in the main event at the UFC Apex on February 18, but the bout was pushed back to March 25, with the event taking place at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas. It’s a move that delighted “The Sandman,” who revealed Las Vegas, and the UFC Apex, in particular, is not his favorite place to fight.
“I hate the Apex,” he told reporters during media day in Texas.
“I don’t know if I hate the Apex more than I hate Las Vegas. But I like I don’t like staying on the casinos. It feels like like I’m in a concrete hole when I’m in the casinos. So of course, I’m grateful because you know, I get to fight in the UFC. But if I had to choose, I would always choose to not fight in Vegas, or at the Apex – maybe not Vegas, but the Apex.”
Sandhagen is a veteran of 11 fights in the UFC and, competing in the most talent-stacked division in the promotion, he said he realized that opportunities to make a statement against an opponent are scarce. It’s something he said has sharpened his focus ahead of the bout with Vera.
“I learned after losing to TJ (Dillashaw), it was kind of like a weird feeling. But I learned that you only get to fight these dudes usually once,” he explained.
“Nine times out of 10, you only get to prove that you’re better than these guys just once. And that wakes me up now, you know? That wakes me up. So I don’t care about anything other than just being ‘Chito’ on Saturday night.
“That’s the only thing that I care about. And it’s because I know that the likelihood of me being able to prove that I’m better than this dude is only on one night. So I’m gonna go out, fight my ass off.
“I’m going to do everything that I can to win, If I get to do whatever the hell I want, I’ll do whatever the hell I want. I don’t anticipate that happening. So I’m gonna have to make adjustments. If the dog has to come out of me in order to win the fight, then the dog will come out too. So I’m ready to do whatever I’ve got to do to win, because I know that this is my only crack at beating this guy.”
Sandhagen is hopeful that victory over Vera will push him closer to a shot at the bantamweight title currently held by Aljamain Sterling, and the Colorado native had words of praise for both the champion and his teammate and top contender Merab Dvalishvili for taking their stance that they won’t fight each other, even if the fight makes sense for the current bantamweight landscape.
“Yeah, I understand it, for sure,” Sandhagen said.
“I honestly think that the both of them are setting a really good example for people. There’s maybe things that are more important than being a world champ, like keeping the relationships that you have with people that are really strong … so we’ll see, when push comes to shove, if that’s really what they stick with, which I’m really curious to see.
“But nah, man. I commend both of them for the way that they’re approaching this thing, you know? l don’t judge, so people in the past that have done it, that’s fine. But I think that it’s pretty cool that they’re conducting themselves in the way that they are in a really awkward situation.”