Cory Sandhagen continues to make his case to be next in line to challenge for the bantamweight championship. While his performances are speaking for themselves, Sandhagen is now calling his shots while saying former bantamweight champion T.J. Dillashaw shouldn’t earn the title shot.
On Saturday in the co-main event of UFC Vegas 18, Sandhagen needed just 28 seconds to knockout former UFC lightweight champion Frankie Edgar with a flying knee. The win marked the second fastest flying knee knockout in UFC history behind Jorge Masvidal, who used a flying knee to knockout Ben Askren.
Following the win, Sandhagen said he’s next in line for the winner of Petr Yan and Aljamain Sterling, who will fight at UFC 259 on March 7.
“I think I’m better than Yan,” Sandhagen said in his post-fight press conference. “If he wins, I want Yan. Same with Sterling, too, though. I’m a different animal. You guys have seen in the last two fights.”
Sandhagen (14-2) has only one loss inside of the octagon and that loss came over the summer in June at UFC 250 when Sterling submitted Sandhagen in the opening round. Since then Sandhagen has rebounded with back-to-back wins over Marlon Moraes and Edgar and he believes he’s a much better fighter since suffer that loss.
“I’m a different animal since that fight with Sterling,” he said. “I’m grateful that he got to teach me a lesson. But the next time we fight, I’m going to hurt Aljamain. I want to fight the winner of that fight in July or whenever they want really. But nah, man. I’ve got to be next for the title. There’s no one else even in the conversation, I don’t think – especially after a performance like that.”
Of course as the bantamweight division is playing itself out, Dillashaw, a former two-time champion, is now eligible to return after a two-year suspension for taking EPO, a performance enhancing drug. Dillashaw’s name has been floating around recently and it’s been usually linked to a title fight. Sandhagen thinks if Dillashaw returning to an automatic title fight is setting a wrong example.
“I heard Yan doing an interview talking about how he wants to fight T.J. (Dillashaw) after. T.J. is coming off some of the most serious PEDs you can do in the sport,” Sandhagen said. “That seems disrespectful to the sport. I’ve been working. I’ve been working these last two years. I’m ready for the belt.”
As for the future of the division, nothing is set in stone beyond the UFC 259 title fight. All eyes will now be on that fight and the comments from UFC president Dana White following the Yan and Sterling matchup.