Marlon Moraes has suggested that his fight with Cory Sandhagen is going to be a war. That feels like a safe bet, given the qualities Moraes, a former WSOF champ and UFC title challenger, and Sandhagen, one of the top 135lb’ers in the UFC, bring with them to the octagon.
Sandhagen, however, has rid himself of expectations heading into the fight. Especially given the layoff opponent Moares is coming off of.
“I’ve avoiding all expectations. Marlon hasn’t fought in a really long time, so who knows what Marlon has been learning and working on in that time,” Sandhagen (12-2) said during a virtual media day ahead of UFC Fight Island 5 this weekend. “I’m not going to bank on his— everyone says it’s his conditioning. I’m not banking on that. I’m not going to feed myself that narrative. I’m anticipating the best Marlon that Marlon’s going to be, and I’m going in with really no anticipation of him doing certain things.” That includes Moraes’ striking, wrestling, or anything else, Sandhagen noted. “I’m going to kind of take the fight just moment by moment.”
As Sandhagen pointed out, Moraes has been out of action for a stretch. He last fought in December 2019, winning a controversial split decision against Jose Aldo, but was passed over for a crack at the vacant UFC bantamweight title in favor of the man he’d just beat. Aldo would go on to lose to Petr Yan, who now holds the belt.
Sandhagen was among those who saw Moraes as winning the bout with Aldo. “I did think that Marlon won that fight. It was a little bit of a weird fight, but yeah, I mean if I had scored it, I would probably have given it to Marlon.”
With that result in mind, Moraes has suggested that a win on Saturday could put him in title contention. Even Sandhagen himself could land there, despite coming off a loss to current top contender Aljamain Sterling. “Yeah potentially. There’s arguments for everyone,” agreed Sandhagen. “I think Aljamain has a really solid argument, and I think he should be the one to be fighting for the belt next. I don’t really know what the hold-up with that is.”
Whenever Yan vs. Sterling is booked, it feels like the winner of Sandhagen vs. Moraes won’t be too far behind.
While Moraes has been out the better part of a year, Cory Sandhagen last fought in June, in Las Vegas. This time out, of course, he’s landed on Fight Island in Abu Dhabi, which brings with it extensive travel, not to mention the anomaly of fighting early in the morning.
“It hasn’t been too bad yet. Maybe it’ll get bad, I don’t know,” Sandhagen said when asked about the obstacles fighting on the island brings with it. “Weigh-in is at night now, so that feels a little bit old school. Before we were all a little bit spoiled and had those early morning weigh-ins. The weigh-in is at night, and then we fight early in the morning. So that might be a little bit of an obstacle for some guys, but I think as long as you kind of plan accordingly, it shouldn’t be too big of an issue. But it’s definitely something that, if you mess it up, you’re not going to be in good shape for fight day.”
Watch the full UFC Fight Island 5 virtual press scrum with Cory Sandhagen above. The event airs live this Saturday, October 10 on ESPN+ (TSN in Canada).