Bantamweight underdog Cory Sandhagen makes a statement in UFC Fight Night
UFC Fight Night: Moraes vs. Sandhagen hosted six main card fights that displayed a little bit of everything on Saturday. A couple big first round knockouts and unanimous decisions were littered throughout the card and culminated in a variety of results.
Arguably the most important fight of the night was the main event, which showcased No. 1 Bantamweight Contender Marlon Moraes against No. 4 Cory Sandhagen in a five-round bout. However, the fight barely made it to the second round; Sandhagen made a statement with a devastating spinning heel kick that connected with Moraes’ head and finished via ground and pound.
“That is putting in that hard work in quarantine,” Sandhagen said in the post-fight interview. “I added [the spinning heel kick] to my game in a weird time. Hard work pays off. I never let my head get stale. I was here for a reason.”
With this win, Sandhagen will surely jump up a spot or two in the rankings and call out a title shot in the near future.
Down at 120 pounds, Featherweights No. 14 Edson Barboza and Makwan Amirkhani duked it out in the co-main event. Barboza had a lot of power behind his shots and dropped Amirkhani multiple times. Each time, he followed up with a submission attempt, but to no avail. Despite both exchanging some heavy shots throughout, the bout ended up going the distance and the judges gave the win to Barbosa.
Zalal vs. Topuria
Saturday’s Fight Night started with a UFC debut from Featherweight newcomer Ilia Topuria, facing off against Youssef Zalal who is 2-0 in the promotion.
After several unsuccessful submission attempts by both competitors, the bout moved to the third and final round. This was Topuria’s first ever fight that went past the first two rounds, and it showed in his quickly fading stamina.
However, thanks to his dominating ground control, Topuria pulled up the win via unanimous decision. This was his first ever decision victory and he currently remains undefeated.
Aspinall vs. Baudot
The Heavyweights were up next, but the fight lasted less than two minutes before a victor was crowned. Tom Aspinall improved his record to 9-2 as he notched his fifth KO/TKO first round finish in a row against Alan Baudot.
Aspinall was just too quick and powerful for Baudot to handle. A huge takedown led to a quick TKO on the ground.
“A win is a win,” Aspinall said in the post-fight interview. “I think it was good. I feel like I got a lot to learn, and I feel like I have another 10 years in this sport.”
Although this was only his second UFC bout, his quick and calculated attacks have slid the groundwork for a formidable fighter who already has people stalking as to who he should face next.
Perez vs. Du Plessis
The third fight of the evening brought yet another UFC debut. Middleweight Dricus Du Plessis’s debut was a long time coming, but he finally got his shot this Saturday. Perez has been in the UFC since 2017, but his experience did not serve him well against the newcomer as Du Plessis dropped him only a couple minutes in the first round.
“I’m going to let it sink in,” Du Plessis said in the post-fight interview. “This is the happiest I have ever been in my whole life. There are always the first fight jitters…but I started timing his punches and the combos started landing. I truly believe I belong in the top 20.”
Those jitters were apparent at first, but he was quick to shake them off and made Perez pay.
Rothwell vs. Tybura
After the new guys took the stage, it was time for the veterans to come in and put on a show. 38-12 Heavyweight Ben Rothwell took on 19-6 Marcin Tybura in perhaps the most intense fight of the evening. As many Heavyweight bouts unfold, the pair exchanged big shots and didn’t even consider going to the ground until the third round. Tybura landed a huge takedown that led to ground and pound towards the end of the third round. This move was enough to convince the judges to award Tybura the win via unanimous decision.