Cory Sandhagen eyeing summer UFC return; Targeting Aldo or Cruz

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.

After huge knockout at UFC Vegas 50, who is next for Song Yadong?

Song Yadong

This past Saturday in the co-main event of UFC Vegas 50, Song Yadong (19-6-1) had his biggest test to date. He was taking on former world title challenger “Magic” Marlon Moraes (23-10-1). Moraes was coming into the fight desperate for a win which made him even more dangerous.

It’s crazy to think that UFC Vegas 50 was already Yadong’s tenth fight with the promotion. What’s even crazier is the fact that he’s already at 26 professional fights including 10 in the UFC all before he has turned 25-years-old.

The young contender was ready to show the world that he can beat some of the best. As mentioned, Marlon Moraes entered the contest on a three-fight losing streak and desperately needed a win. However, Yadong was ready to meet Moraes head on.

From the opening bell, Yadong moved forward and he was throwing serious heat. He never gave Moraes a chance to get comfortable at UFC Vegas 50 and then just over two minutes in, he ended the fight. With a beautiful combination that featured a devastating uppercut, Yadong cemented himself as a top contender.

What’s next after UFC Vegas 50?

When the fight ended, Yadong actually had one specific name in mind for his next fight. It’s a man that he says he respects tremendously and it’s a man that has a ton of history with Yadong’s camp, Team Alpha Male.

That man is former UFC bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz. Cruz is currently ranked seventh in the bantamweight division just a couple of spots ahead of Yadong. He’s also on a two-fight winning streak.

Given the name recognition and the position in the division, it’s a perfect callout for Yadong. However, I don’t think that’s in the cards for the UFC. My gut says that Dominick Cruz is going to be fighting Jose Aldo next.

Another good potential opponent would be Sean O’Malley in a battle of the top young prospects. However, I think O’Malley is likely to fight Adrian Yanez next which would make him unavailable.

I think the logical next opponent for the UFC to book Yadong against is Merab Dvalishvili (14-4). Merab is on a five-fight winning streak and he’s also coming off of a win against Marlon Moraes.

However, Yadong looked even more impressive than Merab did in his win. I think the UFC should pair these two up with the winner being guaranteed a top five guy next. It’s time to see who is ready to take that next step towards title contention at 135 pounds.

What’s next for Dominick Cruz after UFC 269?

Dominick Cruz

This past Saturday at UFC 269 Dominick Cruz (24-3) took on Pedro Munhoz (19-7, 1 NC) on the prelims. It was the second fight of the year for Dominick Cruz who was looking to inch his way back up the bantamweight ladder.

In the first round, Cruz was looking like vintage Cruz. The footwork looked sensational and he was beating Munhoz to the punch virtually the entire round. However, Munhoz completely changed everything with one shot.

Cruz darted in after landing a shot and ran right into a left straight from Munhoz. The shot put Cruz down and really hurt him badly. Munhoz would go on to drop Cruz again shortly after and the referee was close to stopping it.

However, the fight was allowed to continue and Cruz fought on. As the round progressed, Cruz got his legs back underneath him and looked solid. The rest of the fight was all Dominick Cruz.

The former UFC champion looked sensational in the second and third rounds. His combinations were on point and his speed was giving Munhoz a ton of problems. In the end, it was a lopsided decision win for Cruz.

What’s next after UFC 269?

This was a really big win for the former UFC champion. Dominick Cruz returned earlier this year and got a close decision win over Casey Kenney. However, he really didn’t look like himself in that fight.

He looked a lot like himself at UFC 269. In fact, you could say that he looked a lot like prime Dominick Cruz and prime Dominick Cruz can still be a factor near the top of the UFC’s bantamweight division.

So, with that, what does the promotion do with Cruz next. Well, I’ve seen some people suggest that he fight Cory Sandhagen next. However, I’m not a fan of that at all. I think Sandhagen – Font is a much better route to go.

For Cruz, I look right above him in the UFC rankings. The opponent I’m thinking is Merab Dvalishvili (14-4). Merab has won seven fights in a row and he could use a fight with a former UFC champion.

For Cruz, he needs to beat someone like Merab who’s on a big winning streak and is proving to be a threat at 135. Whoever could win that fight would provide one half of a future title eliminator bout in 2022.

Dominick Cruz defeats Pedro Munhoz at UFC 269

Dominick Cruz

On the prelims of UFC 269, we saw a tremendous matchup in the bantamweight division. Former champion Dominick Cruz (23-3) took on contender Pedro Munhoz (19-6, 1 NC).

Dominick Cruz is considered by many to be the greatest bantamweight in UFC history. He was the first bantamweight champion for the promotion and he had a tremendous run at the top of the division.

However, injuries really derailed the career of Cruz. For example, he’s only fought six times in the last ten years. The last time we saw him was at UFC 259 when he won a close decision over young contender Casey Kenney.

Back in 2019, it appeared that Pedro Munhoz was on the cusp of a UFC title shot. He had won three in a row which included a knockout win over former UFC champion Cody Garbrandt.

That win got him a fight with Aljamain Sterling which he ultimately dropped by decision. Starting with that fight, Munhoz is just 1-3 in his last four fights. His last fight was a decision loss to Jose Aldo at UFC 265 in August.

UFC 269 Recap

Round 1

The UFC 269 bantamweight contest kicked off with a touch of the gloves. Cruz immediately starts moving back and forth and opens with a kick. Munhoz tries for a head kick of his own but doesn’t land.

Good low kick lands for Munhoz. Munhoz misses with a big head kick and Cruz pops him with a 1-2. Another nice straight shot from Cruz. Cruz catches Munhoz clean with a nice left hand. Munhoz hits another leg kick and Cruz tries for a takedown.

Pedro Munhoz defends and they’re back to striking. Good low kick and a combination behind it from Cruz. Munhoz pushes forward trying to land back but nothing lands. Another 1-2 for Cruz.

Huge left hand for Munhoz and down goes Cruz. Cruz is out on his feet as he gets back up. Munhoz drops him again and Cruz dives on a leg. It appears that Cruz is going to survive after using his defensive wrestling.

Munhoz lets Cruz back up and they’re back to striking. Cruz lands nicely but Munhoz is stalking him here in the final minute. Good knee to the body and a combination from Cruz. Beautiful jab from Munhoz.

It’s remarkable how much Cruz has recovered here. Another jab from Munhoz but Cruz lands a big combination that backs him up. Big shots from Cruz as the round ends. Cruz did well, but Munhoz takes the first at UFC 269.

Round 2

Entering the second round at UFC 269 and it looks like Cruz was able to get momentum near the end of the first. He starts the second with another good combination after catching a low kick from Munhoz. Solid 1-2 for Cruz lands.

Another good 1-2 for Cruz who appears to be back on stable ground here in the second. Munhoz lands a nice body kick. Head kick attempt from Munhoz just misses. Good jab from Cruz. He follows that up with a nice 1-2.

Munhoz gets popped with another 1-2 and then he tries to answer with a combination. Munhoz shoots for a takedown and Cruz defends easily. Both men exchange jabs in the center. Nice lead left for Cruz.

1-2 for Cruz and Munhoz counters with a double jab. Cruz pushing forward here and throws a leg kick. Munhoz lands a jab but that triggers a combination from Cruz that cuts him open. Another good combination from Cruz lands.

Beautiful striking on display from the former UFC champion in the second. Another good combination and Cruz is pulling away with this round. Massive combination from Cruz and Munhoz looked hurt for a second. The round comes to a close and a dominant one for Cruz.

Round 3

Entering the final round and whoever wins this round likely wins this fight at UFC 269. They touch gloves and here we go. Munhoz lands some solid shots and he’s heavy on the pressure here in the final round.

1-2 for Cruz and Munhoz pushes forward to counter. Munhoz much more aggressive here in the final round. Good combination from Cruz backs Munhoz off the pressure. Another nice 1-2 lands for Cruz and he’s keeping Munhoz at range here.

Good jab from Cruz but Munhoz catches him flush with a huge right hand. However, Cruz resets and lands another good combination. Munhoz chasing here and lands a jab. Good knee to the body from Cruz but Munhoz is on him here with the pressure.

Massive 1-2 from Cruz stops the pressure from Munhoz. Nice jab rom Munhoz however, Cruz counters with a big shot. Another 1-2 from Cruz and Munhoz lands a straight shot right after. Lead right hand from Cruz.

Cruz lands a big combination that Munhoz just eats. Low kick from Cruz. Munhoz pushes Cruz against the fence and tries to land something big but the former UFC champion makes him miss.

Big body kick from Munhoz. However, a nice body shot counter from Cruz. Both men trade jabs in the center. Good combination from Cruz. Munhoz steps is up but Cruz hits him flush as the round comes to a close. Should be 29-28 Dominick Cruz at UFC 269.

 Dominick Cruz def. Pedro Munhoz by Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)

UFC 269 Preview: Dominick Cruz – Pedro Munhoz

Dominick Cruz

UFC 269 is this weekend and the card is completely stacked. On the prelims we will see this tremendous matchup in the bantamweight division. Former champion Dominick Cruz (23-3) takes on contender Pedro Munhoz (19-6, 1 NC).

Dominick Cruz is considered by many to be the greatest bantamweight in UFC history. He was the first bantamweight champion for the promotion and he had a tremendous run at the top of the division.

However, injuries really derailed the career of Cruz. For example, he’s only fought six times in the last ten years. The last time we saw him was at UFC 259 when he won a close decision over young contender Casey Kenney.

Cruz is going to face a stiffer test in the durable and tough Pedro Munhoz. Back in 2019, it appeared that Munhoz was on the cusp of a UFC title shot. He had won three in a row which included a knockout win over former UFC champion Cody Garbrandt.

That win got him a fight with Aljamain Sterling which he ultimately dropped by decision. Starting with that fight, Munhoz is just 1-3 in his last four fights. His last fight was a decision loss to Jose Aldo at UFC 265 in August.

UFC 269 Prediction

This is such tremendous matchmaking and it’s a very intriguing matchup. At a point in time, this could’ve been a matchup that you could have seen for the UFC bantamweight title.

In his last fight, Dominick Cruz didn’t look as sharp as he did in the past. The footwork looked decent, but it didn’t look elite like it had in the past. Prime Dominick Cruz walks through Casey Kenney and that didn’t happen earlier this year.

Pedro Munhoz also didn’t look like the prime version of himself in his last fight. Munhoz is normally a guy who will push forward with a lot of volume. However, he did way too much waiting against Jose Aldo.

I’m curious to see who will lead this dance at UFC 269. I really like Cruz if he can look remotely close to the prime version of himself. His footwork and speed can be used to frustrate Munhoz.

That said, Munhoz does have the power to land big shots which could steal some rounds. I think this fight will ultimately be pretty close, but the point style of Cruz will lead him to a decision over Pedro Munhoz.

Prediction: Dominick Cruz by Unanimous Decision

What’s next for Frankie Edgar after UFC 268 knockout loss?

Frankie Edgar

This past Saturday on the main card of UFC 268, we saw a bantamweight showdown between former lightweight champion Frankie Edgar (24-10-1) and Marlon “Chito” Vera (20-7-1). This was a big fight for Edgar who had a home crowd advantage fighting at MSG.

The fight at UFC 268 started out really well for Edgar. Edgar was able to get a takedown in the first round and spent the majority of the round on top of Chito Vera. The second round saw Chito Vera really start to put together a little momentum.

Chito started landing some big shots and entering the third round, the fight was up for grabs. Vera was fighting with a ton of urgency and kept pushing forward with big shots on the former UFC champion. Edgar was having his moments too until he was caught.

Chito landed a massive front kick to the face that knocked Edgar out and sent him to the canvas. Vera celebrated as a MSG crowd fell a little quiet as they watched the Toms River native ask the referee what happened. The former UFC champion suffered his second consecutive brutal knockout loss.

What’s next after UFC 268?

After this latest loss at UFC 268, many are wondering what’s next for Frankie Edgar. On one hand, we are just one year removed from him winning a tremendous fight against Pedro Munhoz. On the other hand, he’s 40 years old and has been brutally knocked out twice in a row.

Do I think that Edgar is going to retire? No, and I don’t believe the UFC is going to say he needs to hang it up. Edgar was very competitive with Chito until that knockout in the third round. I can’t see him walking away after that loss.

However, the UFC is going to have to figure out an opponent that makes sense. For that, I would turn your attention to UFC 269 next month. On the prelims, Dominick Cruz (23-3) is taking on Pedro Munhoz (19-6).

Whoever loses that fight would be perfect for Frankie Edgar. If Cruz loses to Munhoz, the UFC could put together a matchup between the two legends that fight fans everywhere would love to see. If Munhoz loses, we can see a rematch after their first fight was razor close.

I don’t see Edgar hanging it up, but I also don’t see him making another run towards a title. For the fans of “The Answer”, you might want to enjoy his next fight because that one might just be his last.

UFC books Dominick Cruz – Pedro Munhoz

Dominick Cruz

The UFC has finalized a fun matchup in the bantamweight division. MMA Fighting was the first to report yesterday that the promotion had finalized a matchup between former UFC champion Dominick Cruz (23-3) and Pedro Munhoz (19-6, 1 NC).

The matchup will take place at UFC 269 on December 11th. This announcement came as a surprise for a lot of fans. Pedro Munhoz had been leaning towards moving down to the flyweight division after his last fight.

Munhoz was perhaps just a win away from a title shot at 135 back in 2019. He got the win of his career when he knocked out former UFC champion Cody Garbrandt in the first round which set up a fight against Aljamain Sterling.

However, it hasn’t been as smooth sailing for Munhoz after that matchup. Starting with the Sterling fight, Munhoz has gone 1-3 in his last four. The most recent matchup took place at UFC 265 when he took on Jose Aldo.

Aldo outclassed Munhoz on the feet and after the fight was over, Munhoz said he was going to drop to flyweight. However, there’s been a change of plans after he was offered to fight another former UFC champion.

What does UFC 269 mean for Dominick Cruz?

It’s been quite the roller coaster for Dominick Cruz in the UFC. At one point, he was considered to be on the road to being one of the best the sport has ever seen. However, injuries completely derailed his career.

Despite that, he’s still put together a Hall of Fame UFC resume. Cruz returned earlier this year when he took on Casey Kenney at UFC 259. For Cruz, it was the first time that he had fought twice in a 12 month period since back in 2016.

Cruz was able to edge out Kenney by a decision. After he got the win, he made it clear that he wants to continue climbing the ladder, but he didn’t say at what pace. Taking on Pedro Munhoz is a step up, but it’s not jumping to the top of the division.

Should Cruz pick up the win at UFC 269, I would expect a jump. However, if he falls short, that might spell the end of his career. I’m expecting a very game Munhoz which should make for a very fun fight in December.

After UFC Vegas 29, will see see Dominick Cruz – Chito Vera?

Dominick Cruz

Over the weekend at UFC Vegas 29, we saw the rematch between Marlon “Chito” Vera (17-7-1) and Davey Grant (13-5). The two bantamweight contenders first met back in 2016 where Davey Grant was able to pick up the unanimous decision victory.

Despite having won the first fight and won three straight entering UFC Vegas 29, Davey Grant was the betting underdog on Saturday night. That was because Chito Vera has been really taking off over the last few years.

Since that loss to Davey Grant back in 2016, Vera had gone 9-4 in thirteen fights. At UFC 252, Vera got his highlight victory when he stopped the hype train of Suga Sean O’Malley by stopping him in the first round.

Back in December, Vera fought Jose Aldo and it was an incredibly competitive fight, however, Aldo got the victory. The rematch between Vera and Grant at UFC Vegas 29 didn’t disappoint as the two men took home Fight of The Night honors.

It was a back-and-forth battle on Saturday night. However, Chito Vera was just always one step ahead of Davey Grant. A few times it looked like Chito could get the finish, but Grant was all heart and fought to the final bell at UFC Vegas 29. Ultimately, all three judges gave the fight to Chito Vera.

UFC looking at Vera – Cruz?

So, where does former UFC bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz (23-3) fit into all of this? Well, after the fight was over, Vera said that he would love to fight Dominick Cruz next. Cruz was on the broadcast calling the fights on Saturday night.

The former champion last fought back at UFC 259 when he defeated Casey Kenney by Split Decision. It was a big fight for Cruz who showed that he wasn’t done competing yet and he didn’t care about fighting up and coming contenders.

After Saturday’s win, Vera will still likely be on the back side of the top fifteen in the UFC’s rankings. Dominick Cruz is ranked inside the top ten, and my guess is that he will look for a top-tier opponent in his next fight. Chito Vera is great, but I think we will likely see him fighting someone else.

Is the UFC going to book Jose Aldo – Dominick Cruz?

Two former UFC champions and all time greats could be on a collision course. Those two former champions are the former bantamweight champion, Dominick Cruz (23-3), and former featherweight champion, Jose Aldo (29-7).

Yesterday, Aldo told MMA Fighting that he would love to fight Dominick Cruz next. Aldo said, “It’s a big fight to make, Dominick and me, because of our importance. We were both WEC champions and then came to the UFC as champions, so it’s a big fight to make.”

Originally, Aldo appeared to be on a collision course with former bantamweight champion, Cody Garbrandt. However, the UFC decided to go in a different direction and ultimately booked Garbrandt against Rob Font. 

With that, Aldo is left without a fight. At this stage in Aldo’s career, he’s not wanting to fight more guys like Chito Vera. Aldo defeated Vera back in December to pickup his first win at bantamweight and snap a three-fight losing streak.

However, that fight was more about getting back in the win column. Now that he is, he wants the UFC to give him a big name. A guy in a very similar position to Aldo is Dominick Cruz.

Will the UFC book Cruz – Aldo?

Dominick Cruz appeared on Ariel Helwani’s MMA Show this week where he talked about upcoming opportunities. He echoed Aldo’s statements in that he wants the UFC to only give him big names from now on.

Cruz returned at UFC 259 and picked up a win over rising contender, Casey Kenney. Similar to Aldo, the fight was more about getting Cruz back in the win column after the last few years.

Cruz and Aldo are arguably the greatest fighters to have ever come out of the WEC. They were the first UFC champions in their respected weight classes and many often wondered how a fight between the two great champions would go.

Honestly, there’s never been a better time for the fight than now. Both are ranked inside the UFC’s top ten at bantamweight and both are at a very similar position in their careers. I believe this is a fight that will be made and I wouldn’t be shocked to see it booked for July or August.

What’s next for Sean O’Malley after UFC 260?

Sean O'Malley

This past Saturday at UFC 260, the Suga Show returned to the octagon. On the PPV main card, Sean O’Malley (13-1) took on Thomas Almeida (22-5) in a big matchup in the bantamweight division.

There is no questioning the fact that Sean O’Malley has star appeal. The young bantamweight contender has amassed a big following on social media and his fighting style/personality makes him a very polarizing figure.

O’Malley suffered his first career loss back at UFC 252 against Chito Vera (16-7-1). In that fight, O’Malley started very well, but ultimately, the calf kicks of Chito Vera cut down the young contender and Vera got the TKO win.

This was a huge fight for O’Malley because a loss would be detrimental to his appeal. Thomas Almeida at one point was looked at as a future UFC champion. He was once 21-1, however, a skid had him 1-3 in his last four leading to UFC 260.

Unfortunately for Almeida, the skid didn’t stop. Outside of landing some decent kicks, Almeida was completely dominated by O’Malley. O’Malley ended up scoring a massive third round KO to show the world that UFC 252 wasn’t the end of the Suga Show after all.

What’s next after UFC 260?

Prior to his loss to Vera, O’Malley had just entered the UFC’s top fifteen at bantamweight. With Vera in that fifteenth spot, I don’t expect to see O’Malley in the rankings when they get updated tomorrow.

However, I believe he needs to fight a ranked opponent in his next fight. There are a couple of options out there for the Suga Show. One fight I like is the winner of the upcoming Cody Stamann – Merab Dvalishvili fight. 

Whoever would win between that winner and O’Malley would shoot into the top ten of the division. However, there’s another intriguing matchup that Chael Sonnen mentioned on Saturday night.

That matchup would be against former UFC bantamweight champion, Dominick Cruz (23-3). Cruz just got back on the winning track after a lengthy layoff at UFC 259. A matchup between the two would make a lot of sense for both.

For O’Malley, it would give him the chance to defeat a former UFC champion and arguably the greatest bantamweight of all time. For Dominick Cruz, he could make a statement to O’Malley’s following that he’s still here and he’s not going anywhere. Several compelling options for The Suga Show.