It was the thirty-second flying knee finish of Frankie Edgar that thrust Colorado’s Cory Sandhagen into the UFC limelight. Sandhagen — now ranked No.5 in the UFC’s bantamweight division — has his sights set on a second attempt at the bantamweight title, with a victory over the dangerous Marlon “Chito” Vera on March 25 at UFC San Antonio.
In a UFC media day appearance on March 22, Sandhagen reassured reporters about his mentality, physicality, and motivations going into the biggest fight of his career.
‘Marlon Is a Dog’: Cory Sandhagen Acknowledges Opponent
Both Sandhagen and Vera are considered two of the pound-for-pound most dangerous fighters on the UFC roster. Both men have shown elite striking abilities, phenomenal accuracy, five-round cardio, and unwavering determination in the face of adversity. The first port of call for reporters was to ask Sandhagen for his thoughts on being one-half of such a capricious matchup.
Sandhagen answered, “Yeah I think Marlon is a dog, he presses forward, he’s a very rooted fighter, his feet are usually on the floor. So he’s able to get shots off really quickly. [He] hits people good on exits; [he] hits people good on entrances. [He] doesn’t mix it up a ton, definitely kickboxing is his biggest attribute, along with being very durable and, just like, having a hell of a will to win. Yeah, I’m excited to fight him [on March 25]. I mean, what’s more exciting than two kickboxers… some of the best kickboxers in the division going at it?”
Cory Sandhagen: ‘My Operating Process Is One of The Best in MMA’
The main point of contention for this fight is whether Vera — who is notorious for fighting at a slow pace and falling behind on the cards — will be able to keep up with the frenetic pace that Sandhagen likes to put on in his fights. This was queried to Sandhagen, who was keen to point out that it isn’t just his volume alone that could — or should — win him the fight.
“Yeah potentially, I mean, like the operating system doesn’t really change; their mistakes just kind of change; their openings kind of change,” Sandhagen remarked. ” So, I think having a really good style means winning most of the minutes and then if a big shot lands or they give up a submission or whatever, and that happens, then that’s great.
But I think that my operating process is one of the best in [mixed martial arts] and that’s why I think it’s really exciting to watch, because I can be extremely offensive and also still make defense the number one priority. Which I think is super unique and really fun to watch and it’s something that I’ve worked my ass off to develop.”
Sandhagen’s statement implies that he is aware of his stylistic advantages, but he plans to fight the good fight and focus on winning in any way that he can, touting his perception and fight IQ as major factors in the process.
It’s clear that Sandhagen is at ease entering this matchup. Whilst he acknowledges the advantages he has on paper, he refuses to underestimate his incredibly dangerous opponent, and won’t rule out having to take this fight into unfamiliar territory in order to win. It’s make or break for both fighters come March 25.