Cory ‘The Sandman’ Sandhagen will take on Marlon ‘Chito’ Vera in the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Bantamweight main event on Sunday at the AT&T centre in Texas.
A shot at the title might approach Sandhagen faster than expected if he wins, but the American isn’t looking past his next fight.
“I’m hoping that after this fight, I’ll be able to gun for the title. But as of now, UFC is dead set on allowing Sean O’Malley to take a shot at the title. If that’s not the case, then I hope I go out there and put on a spectacular performance against Chito and fight for the title next,” said Sandhagen in a virtual interaction.
Sandhagen, who made his professional debut in 2015, will be part of a main event for the fourth time in his career.
“I’m very grateful to UFC for asking me to fight in a main event and that’s a big deal to me. If you had asked me five years ago if I was going to make the main event, I would be super excited about it,” he said.
The Sandman versus Chito fight was initially scheduled to headline the Fight Night card on February 18 at UFC Apex but was pushed to this weekend due to unspecified reasons. Sandhagen is unfazed about the schedule change and feels that he ‘got some extra time to prepare’.
“It was kind of like a down week for me. I trained but trained less. There wasn’t too much difference. It is what it is. I’m feeling good. Excited to fight in front of the fans again after a long time,” he added.
The 30-year-old is known for his defensive yet sturdy approach. However, he gained huge traction among fans and pundits when he got creative and knocked out Frankie Edgar with a flying knee shot at UFC Fight Night in 2021.
“That was one move that I added during that camp. It was not definitely a random occurrence; I knew the potential of a move like that and it worked well,” he explained.
Sandhagen and Vera are placed at No.6 and No.3, respectively, in the bantamweight rankings. Coming into the weekend’s fight, the American has had a rough past few matches. However, after two consecutive losses, he registered a dominant knockout victory against Song Yadong. Meanwhile, Vera is on a monstrous four-match winning streak, including two knockout wins.
“He’s a very good striker, obviously that’s what he is known for. I think he’s very durable, he’s going to do something to slow me down and he’s a grounded guy and I do well against guys like him, heavy-hitter kind of guys. Chito is the kind of guy who takes you on mentally and he takes advantage of it later in the game. As long as I stay focused for 25 minutes, that’s not going to work out on me,” he said.
“I do my workouts on time. Every morning I visualise everything - all the way from leaving the hotel room, entering the ring, and winning the fight. I just make sure my mind doesn’t wander off and try to take it moment to moment,’‘ Sandhagen signed off.
Watch the LIVE coverage of UFC Fight Night - Vera vs Sandhagen on Sony Sports Ten 2 (English), Sony Sports Ten 3 (Hindi) & Sony Sports Ten 4 (Tamil & Telugu) channels at 5:30 am IST on 26th March 2023.