‘Problem-Solving’ Cory Sandhagen Reveals One Weakness He Sees In Unbeaten Umar Nurmagomedov

Sandhagen will have five rounds or less to figure out Nurmagomedov at UFC Abu Dhabi.

Cory Sandhagen Umar
(via @corysandhagenmma, @umar_nurmagomedov - Instagram)

No fighter has been able to solve the puzzle that is Umar Nurmagomedov, but maybe Cory Sandhagen can.

When it comes to the Nurmagomedov’s, undefeated records run in the family. Cousin to former champ Khabib (29-0), Umar Nurmagomedov is making his own UFC legacy at 17-0. With five straight victories in the Octagon, the rising star has been rebooked to face the #2-ranked Sandhagen in the main event of UFC Abu Dhabi on Aug. 3.

The First Fight Fallout

Sandhagen has already spent a lot of time preparing for Nurmagomedov as the unbeaten bantamweight withdrew from their headliner at UFC Nashville last summer. A year removed from the fact, Sandhagen is still amped up to be the fighter to hand the highly-touted Nurmagomedov his first loss.

“I like it. I mean, I spent like 10 weeks getting ready for him already for the last fight that we had and I was really excited,” Sandhagen said on Demetrious Johnson’s ‘MIGHTYcast‘ “You know how you never really know how you feel about something until it’s kind of like taken away from you? When I got the call that Umar had had to pull outta the fight for whatever reason he had to, I remember being like genuinely, really bummed because I feel like I really get a kick out of like problem-solving this sport.”

Where Sandhagen Gets His Kicks

Colorado’s own Sandhagen is one the more technically sound fighters in the UFC Bantamweight division. In his last three outings, “Sandman” systemically broke down Song Ya Dong, “Chito” Vera and Rob Font. Before that, Sandhagen came close to beating former champs TJ Dillashaw and Petr Yan.

Next opponent Nurmagomedov presents a threat with his heavy wrestling and grappling expertise in which he has dominated most of his opponents with. Nurmagomedov’s tricky style will be hard to solve, but Sandhagen is more than up for the challenge.

“I really get a kick out of like the technical side. I get a kick out of the strategic side, like the physical piece… there’s better athletes, not as good athletes, all of that stuff. But for the most part, I think that we’re within like 10 percentiles of each other. But I get like a real, real kick on figuring out how to beat these really good athletes and how to beat these guys,” Sandhagen added.

“The Nurmagomedov family has zero losses. I was really excited for the challenge to actually go out and figure out that problem because he does have a super unique style to him, too. I had the answer to the problem and I just had to go show the problem and then obviously the fight got canceled. So I’m super excited about it, obviously because he is such a unique style.”

Sandhagen continued.

“I can’t go over too much of like the ways that I wanna approach it. But man, like I’m pumped for it. And like I said, like just him coming from a really long lineage of family members and just like the Dagestani culture in general is really cool to me and the way that they breed combat athletes. So, I’m really excited to just test myself against that.”

Sandhagen Pinpoints Nurmagomedov’s Potential Kryptonite

How do you beat the unbeatable? Well, if Umar Nurmagomedov’s last performance showed anything, it’s that he bleeds like the rest of us. UFC debutant Bekzat Almakhan had a glimmer of hope against Nurmagomedov, dropping him in the first round before being utterly shut out on the ground. 

One of Cory Sandhagen’s takeaways from the three-round fight is that Nurmagomedov expended a lot of energy in keeping Almakhan grounded, a potential hole that Sandhagen looks to expose across 25 minutes on Aug. 3.

“Just from like a strategic standpoint, I do really wanna fight Umar in a five-round fight also, just because I watched his last one,” Sandhagen explained. “But, he was like [breathing heavy]. He was working hard though, so I’ll give him that, it was well within like the realm of reality for him to be that tired because he was working real hard, like he wasn’t relaxing too much. So, but that fool was really huffing and puffing after, during that interview. So, I think there’s a vulnerability there that I can capitalize on.”

Does Cory Sandhagen have what it takes to be the blemish on Umar Nurmagomedov’s so-far untouchable record?

Published on May 7, 2024 at 5:32 pm
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