Calling his recent absence from the octagon “great time away,” Cory Sandhagen believes he has developed the skills necessary to be a UFC champion.
“It was good time away, man. I feel like I really needed it in order to become an actual champion,” Sandhagen (14-4) explained during this week’s UFC Vegas 60 media day.
After back-to-back losses to T.J. Dillashaw and Petr Yan, Sandhagen has been out of action since October. That will change Saturday at UFC Vegas 60, where the American takes on China’s Song Yadong.
Those losses to Dillashaw and Yan stung. Particularly the Dillashaw loss, Sandhagen explained. “Tough losses, they definitely both hurt as much as my amateur losses. Like I said, they all hurt, but they were needed, so it is what it is.”
Still, there was a certain amount of relief to come back and see that his position in the bantamweight division still afforded him a main event spot.
“I’m excited that I get to come back for a main event, that’s really awesome. I think Song is a very good opponent, he’s beaten some very good guys, so I’m excited about that. He’s dangerous, which makes him easier to fight— it’s always better to be mentally sharp than it is to think that the guy you’re fighting isn’t dangerous. So yeah I’m excited about it and I’m grateful that I get to main event again.”
Sandhagen also explained this week that he had no issues fighting someone with less name value than his previous opponents.
“I don’t really value anything other than people’s skill sets in the sport to be honest with you. I’m not a spectacle guy, I’m not like a drama guy. that’s not what martial arts is to me,” explained Sandhagen. “It’s okay that other people do that, I think that there needs to be a balance and I think that I’m a little bit of that balance to the sport, or guys like me. I’m not into the spectacle piece, I think Song’s a good fighter, that’s why I’m fighting him.”
“I have maybe five, six more years left in the sport, or however many I have, and I don’t want to spend those fighting guys that are going to be [easy] wins. I want to fight the best guys, so I’m okay with this.”
Watch the full UFC Vegas 60 media day appearance by Cory Sandhagen above.