Cory Sandhagen’s dominant victory over Rob Font may have been a landslide on the scorecards, but the manner of his victory didn’t impress the watching crowd at UFC Nashville, as “The Sandman” turned to his ground game to claim a shutout decision victory.
Sandhagen sustained a torn tricep in the opening round, with the injury significant enough force him to abandon his striking gameplan and instead take the fight to the mat. Despite effectively fighting with one arm, Sandhagen was dominant enough to earn 50-45s across the board as he won every round on every scorecard in his main event victory.
Despite his dominant display, the fans were clearly disappointed as they booed the action, while much has been made of Dana White’s decision to leave the arena floor late on in the bout.
But, speaking on The MMA Hour, Sandhagen said that he spoke to the UFC president after the fight, and explained that White offered supportive words, rather than a scathing critique.
“I actually already talked to Dana about it,” Sandhagen said.
“I was like, ‘Hey man, this happened, this happened, I really would’ve wanted to open up a lot more but didn’t feel comfortable.’ And he was real cool with it. He was fine with it. He just told me to heal up and he was real nice about it.
“There was just no weirdness. And in my last three opponents, I stopped Song Yadong, who’s a very, very good fighter and is going to continue to prove that he’s really good fighter. I know that he’s going to be one of the best in the division one day. I beat ‘Chito’ (Marlon Vera) by a mile and I beat Rob by two miles. You can’t really make too much of an argument that I don’t deserve the title shot next.
“I know that the last fight took out maybe a little bit of momentum, but you factor in all of the other things outside of the fight — and even inside the fight with the injury — and you can’t hate me too much for for the way that the fight played out. I still 50-45’d one of the best guys in the world on a bum arm.”
And, on the topic of White’s mid-fight exit, Sandhagen played down the UFC boss’s departure.
“I don’t know, I think it’s probably true if people were saying that, but that could be for a number of reasons,” he said.
“He’s a busy dude and all of that. But yeah, when I talked to him, he was real friendly, real nice, was super understanding, and there was no, ‘Hey, motherf****r, you should’ve done this.’ There was none of that. It was all understanding.”
In addition to the fan unrest during his fight, Sandhagen was also targeted by some of his bantamweight rivals, including former two-division champion Henry Cejudo, who cheekily thanked Sandhagen for his display, saying, “After that dud of a performance, it’s me vs. Merab Dvalishvili for the next shot at that bantamweight strap.”
Sandhagen is taking the criticism in his stride, and said the comments from his fellow bantamweight contenders haven’t come as a surprise to him, given how the fight played out.
“I kind of figured all of everyone else who has to make their arguments for fighting for the belt next, I kind of figured that they’d attack the situation,” he said.
“But the situation is what it is, I did my best. Like I said, I 50-45’d one of the best guys in the world who, on two and a half weeks’ notice, I had to change an entire strategy. Not a guy at all that I was getting ready for.
“And Henry can say what he wants, but he was granted a golden gift by even getting the title shot initially anyways, and he lost. So you’re one or two fights behind now. I’m out for a little bit, so lucky for those guys, but I anticipate when I come back, I’ll be the next guy to fight for the title.”