Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) bantamweight contender Cory Sandhagen probably thought he was in a position to start making demands after turning away the venerable Raphael Assuncao at UFC 241 back in Aug. 2019.
And not without reason, as the 27 year-old Coloradan has a 12-1 record in mixed martial arts (MMA) and currently sits at No. 4 in the 135-pound rankings. He just can’t seem to get any love from ex-champions looking to make a comeback.
Including Dominick Cruz.
“What (Sean) Shelby does is he creates fights between the fighters before the fight happens so that he can get himself out of the way,” Cruz told MMA Fighting. “That’s my experience. It’s not a fact. And what I’m getting from this is Shelby’s telling Sandhagen about me, then Cory Sandhagen puts it out there and then expects me to bite.”
Sandhagen targeted Cruz after losing his opportunity to fight Frankie Edgar.
“I never said no to Sandhagen,” Cruz continued. “I never would. I don’t say no to fights. What I said ‘no’ to was not fighting Petr Yan. I want to fight Petr Yan, I want to fight Marlon Moraes. I want to fight for the title after I fight one of those guys. If you need me to get one fight back before I fight for the title, give me that guy you need me to fight to get to that title.”
Yan is expected to battle Moraes at UFC Kazakhstan in June.
Cruz may not require a title eliminator bout if Jose Aldo is unable to answer the call for UFC 250. Reigning bantamweight kingpin, Henry Cejudo, has already agreed to face “The Dominator” in the off chance the promotion gets locked out of Brazil in May.
But if and when coronavirus subsides and things get back to normal, Cruz (22-2) — who turns 35 in September — will likely need to establish himself as a credible threat to the division throne after spending nearly four years on the sidelines due to injury.