You won’t assume so whereas watching a very brutal combat, however MMA is a fairly forgiving sport.
Barely 16 months in the past, Marlon Moraes was knocked out by Henry Cejudo in his bid to grow to be UFC males’s bantamweight champion. Moraes later suffered a distinct type of indignity, defeating Jose Aldo in December however then seeing Aldo, not him, get booked in opposition to Petr Yan in a July combat for the then-vacant 135-pound title.
Cory Sandhagen has an excellent more energizing reminder of how rapidly issues can crumble. His No. 1 contender showdown with Aljamain Sterling in June had barely obtained began earlier than Sandhagen discovered himself trapped in a chokehold. He ended up seeing his huge alternative evaporate in lower than a minute and a half.
However right here come Moraes and Sandhagen once more, proper again below the highlight. They meet on Saturday evening in the principle occasion of UFC Battle Night time in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, with the night of fisticuffs being broadcast from “Battle Island” on ESPN+ (8 p.m. ET essential card, prelims at 5 p.m.). The winner will surge again into the title combine at 135 kilos.
It is good to see that these two haven’t been derailed by one slip-up, as a result of each have been on in any other case robust runs.
Moraes (23-6-1, 5-2 within the UFC) was on a four-fight profitable streak earlier than succumbing to Cejudo, and amongst his three finishes throughout that spell was a 2017 knockout of Sterling, who now’s the presumed No. 1 contender. May a robust efficiency on Saturday allow the 32-year-old former WSOF titleholder from Brazil to leapfrog his approach right into a championship problem?
Sandhagen (12-2, 5-1 UFC), who’s 28 and fights out of Aurora, Colorado, had gained seven straight previous to the loss to Sterling. He possible wants greater than a win this weekend to earn a shot at gold, however his date contained in the cage with Moraes positive can function a stable constructing block. And future implications apart, Sandhagen isn’t taking as a right his first UFC essential occasion alternative.
“After I was signing the [event] posters earlier, and I used to be signing by myself face,” he informed ESPN’s Ariel Helwani this week, “that was a very cool second.”
This combat guarantees to ship loads of cool moments for the followers as nicely. Moraes, who’s No. 2 within the ESPN men’s bantamweight rankings, has 10 knockouts and 6 submissions over his profession, and the KOs all the time come early. The one one that did not occur within the first spherical got here simply 38 seconds into the second.
As for the sixth-ranked Sandhagen, he scored finishes in his first three UFC fights. At 5-foot-11, tall for a bantamweight, he’ll have an enormous attain benefit, and between that and his deft footwork, Sandhagen has proven adeptness at hitting whereas not being hit. Let’s examine how he fares in opposition to Moraes’ energy out of the gate.
After which let’s examine what the UFC does with the winner.
By the numbers
6.49: Strikes landed per minute within the UFC by Sandhagen, one of the best common amongst lively bantamweights.
0.93: Knockdowns per minute within the UFC by Moraes, the third-highest price amongst lively 135-pounders with at the very least 5 fights, behind solely ex-champion Cody Garbrandt (1.58) and present champ Petr Yan (1.3).
8:12: Common UFC combat time for Sandhagen, the fifth shortest amongst lively bantamweights.
5: Victories for Moraes since his UFC debut in 2017, tying him with Pedro Munhoz for the fourth most within the division throughout that span. Yan and Marlon Vera paved the way with seven wins, yet one more than Aljamain Sterling.
23: Mixed finishes by the 2 essential occasion fighters. Moraes has 10 wins by knockout and 6 by submission. Sandhagen has 4 KOs and three subs.
Sources: ESPN Stats & Info analysis and UFC Stats
5 vs. 5
Marlon Moraes’ most up-to-date outcomes
Win: José Aldo (SD, Dec. 14, 2019; watch on ESPN+)
Loss: Henry Cejudo (TKO3, June 8, 2019; watch on ESPN+)
Win: Raphael Assunção (SUB1, Feb. 2, 2019; watch on ESPN+)
Win: Jimmie Rivera (KO1, June 1, 2018)
Win: Aljamain Sterling (KO1, Dec. 9, 2017)
Cory Sandhagen’s most up-to-date outcomes
Loss: Aljamain Sterling (SUB1, June 6, 2020; watch on ESPN+)
Win: Raphael Assunção (UD, Aug. 17, 2019; watch on ESPN+)
Win: John Lineker (SD, April 27, 2019; watch on ESPN+)
Win: Mario Bautista (SUB1, Jan. 19, 2019; watch on ESPN+)
Win: Iuri Alcântara (TKO2, Aug. 25, 2018)
And the winner is …
I used to be all set to foretell an upset, however then I appeared on the odds. Sandhagen is definitely the favourite, which surprises me, since he was rapidly completed in his most up-to-date combat by Sterling, whom Moraes had beforehand knocked out. I carry up Sterling right here as a result of I consider he’ll play a pivotal position within the end result of this bout. Sandhagen got here away from the Sterling combat recognizing the hazard of beginning slowly, and he has set his thoughts on not permitting it to occur once more. That is key in opposition to Moraes, a quick starter who has been recognized to decelerate as a combat wears on. And questionable cardio doesn’t bode nicely in a five-rounder in opposition to Sandhagen, who trains a mile above sea stage and — if he can avoid early energy — must be good to go for a robust 25 minutes. Sandhagen by resolution.
Saturday’s combat card
ESPN+, 8 p.m. ET
Marlon Moraes vs. Cory Sandhagen | Males’s bantamweight
Edson Barboza vs. Makwan Amirkhani | Males’s featherweight
Ben Rothwell vs. Marcin Tybura | Heavyweight
Markus Perez vs. Dricus Du Plessis | Middleweight
Tom Aspinall vs. Alan Baudot | Heavyweight
Youssef Zalal vs. llia Topuria | Males’s featherweight
ESPN+, 5 p.m. ET
Tom Breese vs. KB Bhullar | Middleweight
Chris Daukaus vs. Rodrigo Nascimento | Heavyweight
Impa Kasanganay vs. Joaquin Buckley | Middleweight
Ali AlQaisi vs. Tony Kelley | Males’s bantamweight
Giga Chikadze vs. Omar Morales | Males’s featherweight
Tracy Cortez vs. Stephanie Egger | Ladies’s bantamweight
Bruno Silva vs. Tagir Ulanbekov | Males’s flyweight
Tips on how to watch the fights
Watch the fights on ESPN+. If you do not have ESPN+, get it here.
There’s additionally FightCenter, which presents reside updates for each UFC card.
5 extra issues to know (from ESPN Stats & Info)
2. Ben Rothwell will likely be within the 51st combat of his skilled MMA profession when he faces Marcin Tybura in a heavyweight bout. Amongst UFC heavyweights, solely Aleksei Oleinik (64) and Alistair Overeem (56) have extra professional fights than “Large Ben.”
3. South African middleweight Dricus Du Plessis will likely be making his UFC debut, going through off with Markus Perez. Du Plessis, a former KSW middleweight champion, has by no means been to a call in his 16-fight MMA profession.
4. Eight fighters on the cardboard will enter Saturday evening having gained three UFC fights this yr. Youssef Zalal, 3-0 in 2020, will open the principle card in a featherweight bout in opposition to Ilia Topuria, who will likely be making his UFC debit. Zalal will likely be trying to grow to be the primary UFC fighter to amass 4 wins this yr.
5. Topuria is 8-0 in his MMA profession, making him one in every of 5 fighters on the cardboard who will enter the evening with an undefeated document. Middleweight KB Bhullar (8-0) will likely be making his debut as a 2-to-1 underdog in opposition to veteran Tom Breese. Rodrigo Nascimento will put his 8-0 document on the road in opposition to heavyweight Chris Daukaus. Middleweight Impa Kasanganay (8-0) will make his second UFC look, going through Joaquin Buckley. And featherweight Omar Morales will look to maneuver to 11-0 when he faces Giga Chikadze.