UFC bantamweight contender Cory Sandhagen kept himself afloat in the 135-pound title chase by capturing a technical knockout victory over up-and-coming prospect Song Yadong in the UFC Vegas 60 main event last weekend in Vegas.
Unfortunately, “The Sandman” has been defeated by reigning champion Aljamain Sterling, as well as top contenders Petr Yan and TJ Dillashaw, so he’s still got some work to do before the promotion will green-light a crack at the bantamweight crown.
That’s why Sandhagen is calling out Marlon Vera.
“I’m like, you want it? Fuck, come and get it. You know, simple as that,” Vera told Submission Radio. “I feel like, in my opinion, he was kind of like, wasting a little bit of energy and crying about like, ‘oh, I got left over, blah, blah, blah. I’m fighting low in the rankings’. And I’m like, I did the same thing my last fight and I didn’t complain. Petr Yan got offered the same fight, the same date in August 13th and he declined it. And they were like, hey, well, Yan declined the fight, you wanna fight Cruz? I was like, yeah, sure, send the contract. And you know, why waste time on, ‘oh, I got left over, I wanna fight for the belt, I wanna fight ahead’. We all wanna fight ahead. But sometimes it is what it is, what is available. So yeah. If you want it, you can come get some.”
“I kick his ass, it’s as simple as that,” Vera continued. “He’s a great fighter, he’s a tough guy. We are the same age. We’ll probably have hard, heavy energy, but I kick his ass at any day, at any moment. So, I’m confident. But this is not just talk. I’m not just making this up because I’m a fucking idiot. I work so hard that I kick his ass, it’s as simple as that.”
Sterling will defend his title against Dillashaw in the UFC 280 co-main event next month in Abu Dhabi, the same card that features the bantamweight showdown between Yan and Sean O’Malley. The best case scenario for the division, at least in terms of forward progress, is a loss for either Sterling or Yan, who already fought twice over the last two years.
Vera doesn’t have his hopes up, at least when it comes to O’Malley.
“There are only two hard fights (O’Malley) has faced in his life: He got knocked the fuck out in one and in the second one he poked the guy in the eyes,” Vera said. “I don’t know, he couldn’t handle himself. And honestly, before the eye poke happened in the Pedro Munhoz fight, it’s not like he was doing something crazy. It wasn’t even like he was kicking his ass. They were like, literally going a slap for a slap in those low kicks. And really no one was making any damage, no one was doing really anything. So, it is hard to think that he can do crazy things. But now you’re fighting the number one contender. You got nothing to lose. You definitely get a little more confidence because you’re like, ‘fuck it. Like, if I lose, I’m supposed to lose. If I win, you know, I’m the cock of the block’. So mentally, you probably got an edge there. But it is, in my opinion, it is honestly how Petr Yan shows up. Is he taking it seriously? Or is he kind of like, ah, this is an easy fight? Because there’s no easy fights in the UFC. Everybody’s good. Everybody’s talented. So, it’s almost like you can harm yourself by being over confident and just taking it easy. Fuck, I train like I’m fighting fucking Godzilla. For me, every opponent has the same weight, the same caliber. I don’t judge no one out of nothing. I just pretend it’s gonna be hard as fuck, and I work hard as fuck. And that’s why I’m calmest, because I’m not worried about doing the wrong thing or taking bad decisions, and it is what it is.”
Vera, who stopped O’Malley at UFC 252 back in Aug. 2020, is now the winner of four straight with two knockouts, including last month’s destruction of former champion Dominick Cruz. “Chito” is currently ranked No. 5 at 135 pounds — one spot below Sandhagen — but remains unbooked at the time of this writing.