One of the best bantamweights in the UFC is gearing up for his return to the octagon. Cory “The Sandman” Sandhagen (14-4) has taken a little bit of time after his most recent trip to the octagon which took place last October.
Sandhagen had a shot at the interim UFC bantamweight title when he took on Petr Yan. Yan was too much for Sandhagen and Sandhagen dropped the fight by unanimous decision. It was the second straight loss for The Sandman.
Prior to that loss, he had a main event last July against former UFC champion TJ Dillashaw. The fight was razor close and Dillashaw was able to win a split decision. However, many in the industry believe that Sandhagen won the fight.
Dillashaw injured his knee in the fight and hasn’t returned since. When Yan needed an opponent for the interim title fight, the UFC went with Sandhagen because the fight with Dillashaw was so close.
Despite losing two in a row, Sandhagen is still ranked fourth in the bantamweight division. He’s ready to get back into the octagon and he has a couple of legends in mind for his return.
Targeting Former UFC Champions
In speaking with MMA Junkie this week, Sandhagen laid out some options for his potential return. There are two names he has in mind and those names are Jose Aldo and Dominick Cruz.
Sandhagen said, “I was kind of hoping for Aldo or Cruze because those guys have a lot of juice. I think that will set me up very nicely for maybe two more wins, then I get to fight for the belt again.”
Now, from what I’ve understood, the UFC was wanting to pair up Aldo against Cruz. This was a dream fight for many years with Cruz on top at 135 and Aldo on top at 145. However, this fight never came together.
That being said, the UFC could pair them up now and it makes all the sense in the world. Ultimately, I think the promotion will lean in that direction, but I wouldn’t rule out Sandhagen getting a fight against one of them.
If the UFC goes in the direction of Aldo – Cruz, I think a great fight for Sandhagen would be him against Merab Dvalishvili. Dvalishvili is riding a seven-fight win streak and he’s looking to face a top contender that can push him over the top. I love this fight for both men and I think it makes a ton of sense.