UFC bantamweight Cory Sandhagen has provided an update on his return to the Octagon, including a likely timeframe and two potential opponents.
Sandhagen, the current #4-ranked contender at 135 pounds, hasn’t been in action since an interim championship collision with Petr Yan at UFC 267 last October.
Despite falling to defeat against TJ Dillashaw just three months prior, the close nature of the contest and Sandhagen’s previous run of knockouts, as well as Rob Font’s inability to make the short-notice date, meant that “The Sandhagen” stepped in after the withdrawal of Aljamain Sterling.
Across five rounds, Sandhagen played his part in what was widely considered a contender for 2021’s Fight of the Year accolade. Ultimately, despite a valiant performance, the Colorado native saw his Russian counterpart leave Abu Dhabi with gold after victory on the scorecards.
While Yan went on to share the cage with Sterling for a second time, talk of Sandhagen’s next outing has been relatively quiet so far this year—that was until now.
During a recent interview with LowKick MMA, “The Sandman” provided an update on his status, suggesting the UFC is lining up his next fight for this summer.
“I’ve kind of just been waiting,” Sandhagen said. “I know that before the title fight (at UFC 273), when I was talking to my agent, he was telling me just that they’re gonna see how that goes, and then probably pair a bunch of us up for like, June, July, or August time. So that’s when I’m anticipating to fight.”
Sandhagen also revealed that he underwent toe surgery during his ongoing period away from the Octagon. While the aftermath of the procedure is still being felt, the 29-year-old is confident of being in fighting shape for a desired July or August fight.
“I’ve kinda just been present and working on my own game for the meantime. I had a little—I thought it would be a minor toes surgery that is turning out to still be a pain in the ass,” added Sandhagen. “But that will hopefully be getting better soon… July or August (works for me).”
Sandhagen Open To Cruz/Aldo Bouts
While he said he’s always been reluctant to give opponent preferences and desires, Sandhagen did drop the names of two UFC legends and former champions as his potential next rivals.
After assessing the prospect of putting on a fan-favorite bout with former bantamweight king Dominick Cruz, Sandhagen noted that a clash with José Aldo, who is widely considered the featherweight GOAT, would offer similar qualities.
“I don’t really have an opinion about who I’d like to fight next,” admitted Sandhagen. “When people like, force me to think of an answer, it usually is Cruz, because I think that from an outside point of view, and me putting myself in the eyes of a fan, I think that would be a really awesome fight to watch… He’s a part of MMA history man, and I wanna be a part of MMA history.
“So I think that that would be really awesome, but also, Aldo brings all the same things that Cruz does, too, so, if you had to ask me who it’d be, I think it would be Cruz or Aldo. I guess I lean a little more to the side of Cruz,” concluded Sandhagen.
Despite their veteran statuses, Cruz and Aldo are attempting to rise back to the top in the UFC. While the American is riding a two-fight win streak, the Brazilian has won his last three bouts, including a main event triumph over Rob Font last December.
Who would you like to see Cory Sandhagen face when he returns to the Octagon later this year?