Exclusive: Cory Sandhagen Not Buying Umar Nurmagomedov’s UFC Hype: ‘Normal Human Being, Just Like Me’

Sandhagen also rates his game as low as a 4 regardless of his top ranking at bantamweight.

Sandhagen Exclusive
(via @umar_nurmagomedov, @corysandhagenmma - Instagram)

Cory Sandhagen isn’t one for propaganda or whatever else is surrounding his next opponent.

In quite a pivot for the #2 UFC Bantamweight contender, Sandhagen will fight way beneath him in the rankings as he battles the unbeaten Umar Nurmagomedov (17-0), ranked #10. Sandhagen will look to bring Nurmagomedov to the jaws of defeat in the main event of UFC Abu Dhabi on Aug. 3.

Colorado’s Sandhagen has had a lot of time to prepare for Nurmagomedov as they were supposed to collide about the same time last year but Nurmagomedov was forced to withdraw from the massive fight only to get it again upon his return and a win over Bekzat Almakhan, a UFC debutant who was brought in just to face the Dagestani as no other contender dare sign the contract against Nurmagomedov except Sandhagen or at least, that’s how the story goes.

Nurmagomedov, like his cousin in former lightweight champion Khabib, poses his greatest threat on the ground with an arsenal of grappling skills from crushing takedowns to sneaky submissions and he’s no slouch on the feet, either.

Sandhagen Rates Himself A What?

Sandhagen has proven himself as an all-around fighter in the bantamweight division and one of their absolute best, too. Despite the widespread respect paid to him, Sandhagen believes he still has a long way to go before he reaches his full potential and his world renown coach Trevor Wittman will help him see that through.

“When I watch those videos of people in the UFC, like, hey, rate your skills 1-10. I hear people like say crazy things like, give themselves 8’s, 9’s and 10’s. That, to me, is no bueno,” Sandhagen told Middle Easy on Wednesday. “That’s like not the way that I think. I think that I’m probably somewhere between like a 4 and a 6 as far as like what I imagine I can actually be. I think that not to toot my own horn, but that takes a decent amount of imagination to like see this futuristic, unbelievable, perfectly crafted fighter that I’m really striving to be.

“I don’t know if I have time to become that person, but, yeah, I think that as far as my skill sets go, I think I’m somewhere between, like, a four and a six because I just have so much more… to learn in all areas. So, yeah, I think I got a long ways to go still.”

Sandhagen: Nurmagomedov Not ‘Larger Than Life’

With the performances Umar Nurmagomedov has been putting on inside the UFC Octagon, dominating his fights from start to finish, many are led to believe the 17-0 fighter is already on the championship level despite his not-so-elite competition. Sandhagen will be Nurmagomedov’s first real test in the UFC and this isn’t to say fighters like Raoni Barcelos or Nate Maness aren’t great but they are not near the upper echelon of the division like Sandhagen is and has been in recent years.

Sandhagen was asked if he sees Nurmagomedov any differently, given what has been made out of his opponent’s dominating highlights thus far. Q: “Do you allow the myth of the Nurmagomedov’s to be even larger than it is, or do you not focus on it in those terms?”

“No, not really,” Sandhagen responded. “I’m kind of a f*** media guy, not like your guys’ media, but like I don’t really love propaganda and I don’t really love like narrations that just are borderline lies. I don’t dig that type of [hype] stuff. So, Umar’s a normal human being, just like me. He comes from the background that he comes from and he has his skills in what he’s good at. He has other things like heart and a bunch of psychological like powers as well, too. But, so do I. I don’t see the world in that way.

“I think that we’re all like normal people that are blessed with certain things that are really awesome and we all have a really unique blessings that we can use. And it’s like your job to identify what those are, what you’re weak at, and then just get better at the ones that you’re weak at and really capitalize on the ones that you’re good at. So, no, I don’t like turning any of these people into larger than life things. Because they’re not.”

Implications Of A Win At UFC Abu Dhabi

While beating the #10 contender in the world might not amount to all that much on paper, Sandhagen says bringing an end to the Nurmagomedov’s undefeated run should bring about what is arguably an overdue UFC title shot against Sean O’Malley or Merab Dvalishvili, provided the Georgian ‘Machine’ break through at bantamweight.

“I think that there is really nobody else I think that [is in title contention]. Me and Merab have been in discussion about fighting before and I know that everyone in the entire world that’s a UFC fan wants to watch me and Sean O’Malley fight.

“So, I think that it’s pretty much a done deal if I go get it done against Umar,” Sandhagen added.

A win over Umar Nurmagomedov would be Cory Sandhagen’s fourth in a row with “Sandman” salvaging victories over Rob Font, Chito Vera, and Song Ya Dong.

Watch Middle Easy’s Mike Owens interview Cory Sandhagen below!

Published on May 29, 2024 at 4:59 pm
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