Marlon Moraes faced a TKO loss to Cory Sandhagen at Saturday’s UFC Fight Island 5 card and felt that the stoppage made by the referee was an early one.
Moraes (23-7-1 MMA, 5-3 UFC) got caught with the highlight-reel strike from Sandhagen (13-2 MMA, 6-1 UFC) early in the second round of their bantamweight headliner. The Brazilian got knocked down from the blow, then his opponent swarmed with a couple more strikes on the ground, resulting in the fight being waved off by referee Marc Goddard.
Although Moraes admits the shot was a good one, and he was certainly not at 100 percent, he said he felt there was still some fight left in him.
“He kind of catches me with a kick and bloodied my eye a little bit and right after he surprised me,” Moraes said on the UFC on ESPN+ 37 post-fight show. “He didn’t come this way, he came the other way and that’s it. Probably a little early stoppage, but whatever. I thought I was (able to continue) but the ref just jumped on me. I didn’t have enough time to get up.”
He thought he fought well, but Sandhagen was able to find his target first.
“I just got caught,” Moraes said. “He catches me. I was doing good the first round, it was a good fight. I was very excited about this fight. … Unfortunately, I got caught. I caught a lot of guys before, but that was my day.”
Moraes has lost fights before and still managed to work his way back into position as one of the world’s top 135-pound fighters. This was a costly outcome in terms of his short-term plans of getting to a title fight and capturing gold, but Moraes isn’t to be deterred.
Moraes now wants to bounce back quickly and the best way to do that would be getting another one scheduled before the end of the year.
“I just want to go home and get another fight,” Moraes said. “I want to be busy. That’s a long time no fights. Hopefully, I can get another one by December.”
The victory was a huge one in the bantamweight division. Coming in, ESPN had Moraes ranked No. 2 in the world at 135 pounds and Sandhagen at No. 6. Sandhagen said the only two people who could have a better case for a title shot than him are former UFC champions, TJ Dillashaw and Frankie Edgar. He said he would welcome a fight with either one of them en route to the belt.
Sandhagen (13-2) has won eight of his past nine bouts. He lost for the first time in his UFC run at UFC 250 in June, a submission defeat to top contender Aljamain Sterling. The Colorado resident was on a seven-fight winning streak before that. Sterling is now going to be the next guy in line for the bantamweight championship belt and will face Petr Yan.
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