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Cory Sandhagen surprised Sean O’Malley got No. 1-ranked Petr Yan after UFC 276 eye-poke performance

Sean O’Malley’s fight against Pedro Munhoz at UFC 276 this past summer ended in a “No Contest” after “Suga” inadvertently poked “Young Punisher” in the eye, prompting the official to call the fight midway through round two. But, the outcome of the bout didn’t affect O’Malley’s progress in the slightest because he was subsequently booked to face off against the No. 1-seeded contender in the Bantamweight division, Petr Yan, at UFC 280 on Oct. 22, 2022.

It’s a decision Cory Sandhagen — who lost to Yan at UFC 267 in an interim title fight — disagrees with, saying O’Malley’s performance against Munhoz was not good enough to land him such a high-profile fight.

“Super surprised,” Sandhagen during the recent UFC Vegas 60 press conference in Las Vegas, Nevada. “Let’s see how it goes for him. It’s three rounds so that is a little more of an advantage for O’Malley.

“But, I think Yan is not a stupid guy and I think he has definitely learned from his mistakes in the past, which have been not being aggressive enough in the first round,” he continued. “So, I don’t think he’ll make those same mistakes. I think Sean’s last showing against Munhoz wasn’t good, nothing happened in the first round, then he poked a guy in the second one.

“Should you fight the No. 1 guy after a performance like that?” he asked. “In my opinion, no. But, what do I know?”

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Still, Sandhagen hesitantly says that if “Suga” happens to take down Yan it will likely earn the No. 13-ranked fighter at 135 pounds a title shot.

“He probably will — Yan is a good fighter,” Sandhagen explained. “Yan almost beat Sterling in the last one and he was beating him in the one before that. So, if he wins, then sure I guess. But, I don’t want to say that because maybe if I win then maybe I can jump into that spot if it is impressive enough. But, I think Yan might get you a title shot.”

Indeed, Sandhagen is hoping to punch his ticket to another title fight if he can impressively defeat Song Yadong this Saturday weekend (Sat., Sept. 17, 2022) inside UFC Apex in “Sin City,” despite currently being on a two-fight losing streak. Another option could be a title eliminator fight between Sandhagen and O’Malley if they both prove victorious.

Remember that will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Vegas 60 fight card right here, starting with the ESPN/ESPN+ “Prelims” matches, which are scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. ET, then the remaining main card balance (on ESPN+) at 7 p.m. ET.

To check out the latest and greatest UFC Vegas 60: “Sandhagen vs. Yadong” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.

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