Cory Sandhagen may have been the biggest loser at UFC 259 without even stepping into the Octagon. The bantamweight title was up for grabs at UFC 259 at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas on March 6th between Petr Yan and Aljamain Sterling. In the 4th round of the bout, Yan landed a blatantly illegal knee to Sterling’s head while he was clearly down on the canvas. Unable to continue, Sterling was crowned the new champion via disqualification.
Cory Sandhagen feels the force of Yan’s illegal knee.
Thanks to the help of Khabib Nurmegomedov translating for the commentary desk, we learned that Yan’s coaches told him to knee Sterling while down, leading to the disqualification.
Before leaving the octagon, Sterling threw the belt down in disgust, clearly upset about winning the title via DQ. In the post-fight interview, Sterling called the knee “f*cking bullsh*t” and explained that he attempted to continue, but physically was incapable.
According to Dana White during the post-fight presser, the UFC will try to run back the fight “as soon as possible.”
Although Yan was technically the loser of the fight, Cory Sandhagen is the biggest loser of UFC 259. Cory is next in line for the title shot and was probably watching tonight’s fights closely. With a long recovery for Sterling, and the rematch coming sometime in the future, this puts Cory in limbo.
With TJ Dillashaw looming in the shadows and ready to return, it is entirely possible that we will see the UFC book Dillashaw and Sandhagen. Stylistically it’s a fun fight for the fans, however, Dillashaw is by no means an easy win for Sandhagen. If Sandhagen declines the fight, the UFC may skip over Sandhagen for someone else who has made recent noise in the division. We’ve seen a similar issue at Welterweight with Leon Edwards, who has declined multiple challengers while waiting for either a title fight or a top contender fight.
A fight and a win over a returning Dillashaw would do wonders for the popularity of Sandhagen. However, that fight is no walk in the park. If Cory were to take the fight and lose, it would be a tremendous setback to the career of a potential rising star in the already stacked 135 lb division.
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