Top UFC bantamweight contender Cory Sandhagen hasn’t fought since August last year. He was scheduled to fight Frankie Edgar in January, but the fought fell through after Edgar took a short notice fight against Chan Sung Jung.
He then said that he had a fight lined up against Dominick Cruz for May 16 at UFC San Diego, but that bout didn’t materialize. He then was rumored to fight Aljamain Sterling on the same date, but this bout fell through as well.
Former UFC bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz appeared on MMAFighting’s A-side live chat last week where he opened up about the rumored bouts against Cory Sandgahen. Cruz gave a detailed account of his talks with Sean Shely and said that he never accepted a fight against Cory.
Now Cory appeared on the A-side podcast and gave further clarity to this whole saga.
“Me and Aljamain were talking of fighting after we knew that (Marlon) Moraes and (Petr) Yan got booked,” Sandhagen said. “So I was all for Aljamain. Okay, cool, this is a good fight, Aljamain’s ranked No. 2, it makes sense, people are talking about him being a contender, so that made sense. Then, my agent told me that Cruz sent a message to (UFC matchmaker Sean) Shelby saying that he wants to come back for that San Diego card. Whether that’s true or not, that’s what was relayed to me. Shelby said that Cruz wanted to come back and fight in San Diego and that the fight that was most exciting would have been me and Cruz.
“Granted, I think I’ve been pretty outspoken about how much Cruz has been helpful in inspiring me a long, long, time ago to get into martial arts. I’ve been really open about that. I was really excited to do that just because I think it would be so cool—Because 10 years or so ago when I was watching the WEC, I was just watching Cruz and that was one of my favorite fighters. I remember sitting on the couch and being like, ‘Damn, this is what fighting can look like? This is cool. This isn’t what I see in, like, the basketball locker when I’m in high school, you know? This is different. I think that it would be cool for the me that was ten years ago watching Cruz on television to stand across from him in the cage now. That would be maybe a dream come true.”
In the interview last week, Cruz made it explicitly clear that he wasn’t opposed to fighting Sandhagen. He said that he wanted to fight someone in the division that could provide him the quickest shot at the title. Sandhahen cleared the air around the Cruz incident and said that he was happy that the former champion didn’t roast him.
“I actually appreciate that Cruz didn’t just call me a dumbass and that, like, what Shelby said was true or whatever,” Sandhagen said. “So I actually appreciate how he answered that interview question because he didn’t just roast me like he maybe had the opportunity to. Because anytime you have the opportunity to say a narrative about anything in this sport, guys take it as far as they can.
“Look at Tony (Ferguson) and Khabib (Nurmagomedov). I mean, Tony’s feeding this narrative that Khabib ran away and this and that and it’s like, ‘Man, that’s not true, bro.’ Khabib’s not scared to fight you. I know that’s the narrative you’re feeding people and a couple of people will bite that are your big fans, but it’s a silly narrative. I don’t know why people do that. It seems silly to me. Why do you want to throw your peer under the bus like that? So I appreciate Cruz not calling me an asshole for assuming that everything that I was being told was true.” (H/T – MMAFighting.com)