Exclusive: Cory Sandhagen Reveals Timetable for UFC Return, Reacts to Dana White Walking Out on His UFC Nashville Main Event

'The Sandman' offered some insight in his main event showdown with Rob Font and the injury he sustained in the opening round

Cory Sandhagen
Courtesy of @UFCNews on Twitter

Cory Sandhagen scored his third-straight victory at UFC Nashville, but the bout didn’t necessarily go off without a hitch. 

‘The Sandman’ headed to Music City, USA last weekend with the hope of delivering a show-stealing performance en route to earning a UFC title opportunity. However, things didn’t go exactly to plan after he suffered a torn tricep early in his contest with short-notice opponent Rob Font. Determined to get the W despite the grueling injury, Sandhagen changed up his game plan and went with a more grapple-heavy approach that was both incredibly effective and sleep-inducing.

Fans inside the Bridgestone Arena were nothing short of unforgiving, showering Sandhagen with boos as he completed seven total takedowns and maintained top control for nearly 20 minutes. Following the fight, fans were finally clued into Sandhagen’s injury, but as he revealed in a MiddleEasy exclusive interview with James Lynch, ‘The Sandman’ walked into the contest with some lingering issues that ultimately caused his torn tricep. 

“I wasn’t necessarily injured. I was dealing with some bursitis, but bursitis is kind of minimal, but what the doctor explained to me that could have been a potential thing, which I didn’t even think about or realize going into the fight is I got cellulitis in some of that bursitis because the bursitis got infected. The infection can really weaken that joint and the things that are in that area,” Sandhagen said.

“So, the doctor and I think that’s why it tore so easy, but while I’m in the fight, in the first round, we had a grappling exchange. Rob stood back up and I threw a punch with it and I remember being like, ‘I don’t know what that is.’ Because it didn’t feel like the elbow. I had been dealing with bursitis so I knew what the elbow felt like, but it felt more in my tricep, but I just couldn’t figure out what that was. 

“I was like, well don’t mess with it. This is round one. Just don’t use your arm for now. Use it in the spots that you need, but don’t chuck right hands until we know what’s going on with that arm.”

‘The Sandman’ Reacts to Dana White Walking Out on His Main Event

It didn’t take long for Sandhagen to realize that something was very wrong with his arm, altering his game plan for the remainder of the bout.

Prior to his injury being public knowledge, fans were less than thrilled with his dominant, yet uneventful victory over Rob Font. Even UFC President Dana White had seen enough by the time the fourth round rolled in, opting to make his way backstage instead of seeing how things played out. Following the fight, Sandhagen reached out to White and offered an explanation for the lackluster showing. 

“I was just texting Dana and I explained to him, I was like, ‘Hey man, I hurt my tricep in the first round. I’ll never be in another fight like that again. I promise you.’ I promise the fans I’ll never be in a fight like that again, but just given the circumstance and the injury, there was not a lot that I could do about that. And I know that it sucks because it had the potential to be a really awesome fight,” Sandhagen continued. 

“And then Dana was just like, ‘Yeah man, not every fight can be a barnburner. Heal up.’ I was like, ‘Cool. Okay. Gladly.'”

Cory Sandhagen Discusses His Timetable for a Return to the Octagon

As for the healing up part, Sandhagen revealed that he will undergo surgery to repair his torn tricep. Speaking about the recovery process, ‘The Sandman’ suggested that it should take him roughly six months to fully heal. 

“Tomorrow I get my surgery and then it’s two weeks in a sling, and then I start rehab. Three months in I get to start using it some, decently. And then six months in I’m 100% healed so that’s not even that bad of an injury. I can work around an elbow. It’s not like a knee or an ankle where I won’t be able to walk straight right for a couple of months, so I’m good. I’ll work around it and keep getting better.”

Riding a three-fight win streak and sitting in the No. 4 spot in the bantamweight rankings, Cory Sandhagen does appear to be in line for a title opportunity once he is ready to return. But with reigning champion Aljamain Sterling toying with the idea of leaving the division behind after his title tilt with Sean O’Malley at UFC 292 later this month, it could force the promotion to book some fights before Sandhagen is ready to return and claim his own shot at championship gold.

“I’m not too worried either way. I think that when I come back and I’m healthy, I think that the UFC will still give me the title shot. There’s a lot of question marks because Aljamain [Sterling] is saying he’s going to leave the division. Whether or not he actually does that is the question. And whether or not he actually wins is another question. 

“Honestly man, in MMA you can’t even think three months ahead of time because it’s just changing all the time. So, I honestly don’t know, but I think that they like to get the title fights going. They don’t like waiting around for people, but it’s okay. I think I’ll still be able to come back and fight for the title.”

Cory Sandhagen Does a Little Matchmaking in the Bantamweight Division

After his original opponent, Umar Nurmagomedov was forced to withdraw from the UFC Nashville main event, Rob Font was pulled from his previously scheduled bout with Song Yadong and interjected into the potential title eliminator. 

Looking at some possible bantamweight matchups, Cory Sandhagen suggested that he could rebook his bout with Nurmagomedov, but for now, he believes the Dagestani standout will have to earn another win or two before being allowed to play around in the top five. 

“Potentially maybe me and Umar will fight in the future,” Sandhagen said with hesitation. “To be honest, it’s hard to see how really really good someone is until they’ve been in it for a little bit. I came out the gate 5-0 and then lost real bad against one of the top guys so, it’s kind of hard to tell. I definitely think that when Umar comes back after surgery, he’s gonna have to fight a few times in order to get bumped back up.”

As for Rob Font’s original opponent, ‘The Sandman’ would love to see Song Yadong match up with former two-division titleholder Henry Cejudo.

“Honestly, I think that Song should maybe even fight up a little bit [in the rankings],” Sandhaged added. “I think Song’s real good, dude. Especially having fought him. I think he’s a really good martial artist. I almost want to see him fight up more. Like, I don’t know why they don’t do [Henry] Cejudo and Song would be a really good fight.” 

Asked whether or not Cejudo would be willing to accept a fight with someone lower in the divisional rankings, Sandhaged offered a very blunt response. 

“I don’t think that he gets to cherry-pick the fights that he deserves or he wants, or whatever. You just lost to the champ after being retired for a couple of years. You should have to fight some guys in order to get that title shot again.

“I don’t think that you should just get it, but that’s me kinda like sh*tting on a guy which I’m trying not to do because the more I think about it, the more I realize we’re all in this pool shooting for the same goal, what it kinda turns into is those political commercials where all the politicians are talking bad about all the other politicians.”

Published on August 9, 2023 at 4:14 pm
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