Streaking UFC bantamweight contender, Cory Sandhagen certainly isn’t impressed with the way in which current undisputed titleholder, Petr Yan earned his moniker as the division’s pacesetter — claiming the champion was almost handed his title owner status on a silver platter.
Sitting at #2 in the official bantamweight rankings, Sandhagen rebounded from a rear-naked choke loss to upcoming UFC 259 title chaser, Aljamain Sterling — securing two massive highlight-reel knockout wins over former title challenger, Marlon Moraes, and former lightweight best, Frankie Edgar since.
Whilst his UFC Vegas 18 flying-knee stoppage of Edgar inside the opening minute drew massive plaudits across the sport, a potential matchup against either Yan or Sterling for the undisputed bantamweight championship may allude Sandhagen — given the current champion, Yan’s preference to fight the returning former two-time champion, T.J. Dillashaw if he gets past Sterling this weekend.
Speaking ahead of Yan’s first attempted defence of the bantamweight crown, Sandhagen couldn’t hide his frustrations with the champion’s route to the title — noting his prior wins over veterans, Urijah Faber and Jose Aldo as his only two standout victories.
“It’s kind of frustrating that (Petr) Yan was a little bit served the belt on a silver platter,” Sandhagen said during a recent interview with MMA Fighting. “The guy’s calling all the shots and talking like a big guy when it’s like, you beat (Urijah) Faber to get a title shot and you beat (Jose) Aldo to win the belt.“
“My two wins ago now was a guy that beat Aldo [Marlon Moraes] and I knocked him out,” Sandhagen explained. “That rubs me the wrong way, too, that Yan gets to call all of these shots when really he hasn’t had a rough go at it.“
His June defeat to Sterling snapped his perfect-promotional run in the UFC, before he rebounded with a UFC Fight Island 5, wheel-kick knockout of Moraes — who was initially targeted to headline a UFC Fight Night Kazakhstan event against Yan before the Russian even lifted bantamweight gold.
Earning the #2 rank at 135-pounds, Sandhagen, who noted his willingness to match with the soon to return Dillashaw if that guaranteed him a title shot next — dispatched former lightweight kingpin, Edgar with a brutal flying-knee in a February co-main event slot.