As Cory Sandhagen prepares to enter the cage against the legendary Frankie Edgar at UFC Vegas 18 on Saturday, he’s “catering the mind towards what it needs.”
The mental prep, after all, is as important as anything else ahead of a fight that could lead to a shot at gold. As Sandhagen (13-2) told Cageside Press this week at a virtual media day for the event, “it’s a big fight. It has big implications. It could mean a title shot after this one. So, [I’m] taking it super serious and making sure that I’m ready to go.”
The bantamweight title picture becomes rather interesting past Petr Yan vs. Aljamain Sterling, which is expected to take place next month. While the winner of Sandhagen vs. Edgar would clearly have a case, the impending return of ex-champ T.J. Dillashaw could muddy the waters. 135lb champion Yan, for his part, has expressed a desire to face Dillashaw following that Sterling fight, assuming Yan gets his hand raised.
Not surprisingly, Sandhagen is not a fan of that prospect. “I hope [Dillashaw] doesn’t get a title contention shot right off the bat. I think that you know the guy’s coming off a two year suspension from, not like a soft drug. EPO is a serious drug and I don’t think that he should just come back and fight for the title just because he has a big name.”
Sandhagen’s preference is for Dillashaw to take at least another fight first. “Give him someone, give him anyone,” suggested Sandhagen. “I asked for him after my last fight and didn’t get him so I don’t really know what’s going on. And you know, who knows what’s gonna happen with that? I don’t think it should happen if you want my opinion about it, but I stay focused on me.”
There’s a reason Dillashaw’s name is in the mix, Sandhagen later added. While he understands that his own loss to Sterling might make a title fight a hard sell so soon after the fact, he also believes that Dillashaw’s use of one of the most serious performance enhancing drugs in the sport, EPO, should also make for a hard sell. Beyond that, “I think the only reason that [Petr Yan] wants TJ is because TJ is has been gone two years, he’s not gonna be on steroids anymore,” Sandhagen suggested. “And he’s getting a little bit older. I don’t think that [Yan] really wants to fight a tough guy that doesn’t have the same fandom as he does. And I think that that’s me. I think that I’m the tougher fight. But I think TJ is probably, quote unquote, the bigger fight and that’s kind of how the game works a little bit, so I see why he’s doing it.”
Cory Sandhagen takes on Frankie Edgar in a key bantamweight battle at UFC Vegas 18 (UFC Fight Night 184) this Saturday, February 6 at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas, NV.