Exclusive – Cory Sandhagen Feels ‘Chito’ Vera Had ‘No Business’ Fighting Sean O’Malley at UFC 299

'Sandman' was not happy to see Vera skip the line and get an undeserved title shot against O'Malley in March

Cory Sandhagen
Courtesy of @UFC on X

Cory Sandhagen is on the cusp of a bantamweight title opportunity. 

With wins over Song Yadong, Marlon ‘Chito’ Vera, and Rob Font in his last three outings, ‘Sandman’ will look to make it four in a row when he steps into the main event spotlight on August 3 for a scrap with undefeated division standout Umar Nurmagomedov in Abu Dhabi. 

Ahead of his highly anticipated return, Sandhagen sat down with Mike Owens in a MiddleEasy exclusive interview to discuss the yet-to-be-announced title fight between reigning bantamweight champ Sean O’Malley and top-ranked contender Merab Dvalishvili. 

Asked for his keys to victory for both fighters, Sandhagen said:

“I think Merab needs to close the gap a lot better than he’s been shown to do in the past. He gets clipped sometimes putting his head in that space in between him and his opponent and if you do that incorrectly against O’Malley, he will 1000% make you pay for that. 

“I think O’Malley needs to not make the same mistake that Petr Yan made when he fought Merab in that you can’t just nullify the takedowns,” he continued. “You need to nullify and then capitalize. You can’t spend an entire 25 minutes just defending shots because that doesn’t win you a fight. What’s going to win you a fight is doing damage to the other person so it needs to be about building a game plan around shutting down the shot and also making it so you can be offensive too.”

Cory Sandhagen Insists ‘Chito’ Vera Didn’t Deserve to Be in There with Sean O’Malley

O’Malley vs. Dvalishvili is expected to go down in September, potentially headlining the promotion’s one-off event inside The Sphere in Las Vegas. 

It will be O’Malley’s second time defending the strap after handing Marlon ‘Chito’ Vera a five-round shellacking at UFC 299 in March. Asked for his thoughts on O’Malley’s performance, the ‘Sandman’ was mostly complimentary, but was quick to acknowledge that Vera had no business being in there with ‘Sugar’ to begin with. 

“He showed good conditioning, but that’s like a buffet for a fighter like O’Malley,” Sandhagen said. “He is really precise with his footwork and when he hits you, he really digs into shots so really, the only difference I would argue between me and O’Malley’s fight against ‘Chito’ was that O’Malley hit him a lot harder than I was. 

“I don’t mean to sh*t on ‘Chito’ and it’s not really his fault that he got the title shot, but he really had no business being in there with O’Malley. I know there’s a whole thing with him beating Sean before, that whole narrative, but as far as skills go, Sean is way better than that guy.”

Sandhagen concluded, “It was kinda like beating up a contender who didn’t deserve to be in there.”

Watch the full exclusive interview below:

Published on May 29, 2024 at 6:56 pm
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