UFC Fight Night: Moraes vs. Sandhagen Preview
A preview of Saturday’s UFC Fight Island 5 card, set to take place in Abu Dhabi.
Updated: Oct. 8, 2020 • 5:45 PM ET
Cory Sandhagen is seeking a UFC title shot.
A bantamweight fight with major title implications will main event the UFC’s return to Yas Island in Abu Dhabi this Saturday, as former title challenger Marlon Moraes will face top contender Cory Sandhagen.
Moraes, the UFC’s No. 1 ranked bantamweight, is coming off a controversial, split-decision win over legendary combatant Jose Aldo at UFC 245 last December. Unfortunately for Moraes, many onlookers thought the fight should have gone Aldo’s way, which likely had something to do with the UFC choosing Aldo to fight for the vacant title at UFC 251 in July instead of Moraes.
Moraes challenged for the vacant belt at UFC 238 last June against Henry Cejudo, who defeated Moraes by third-round TKO.
The loss ended Moraes’ four-fight winning streak, but another win on Saturday over the No. 4 ranked Sandhagen could potentially lead him to another title shot.
“Hopefully, I can get another one (title shot),” Moraes said on Just Scrap Radio on BJPENN.com. “I want October then December. I’m healthy and want to get in there on October 10, have a war and after that, we will see. I want to get back in December.
“This is what I always say, you are only remembered for your last fight. If you wait too much, no one will remember what you did. Let’s get in there, have a good fight, and see what happens next. With the UFC everything changes so we will see.”
Before getting back to another title shot, however, the 32-year-old Moraes must get through Sandhagen and believes he knows what to expect on Saturday.
“He’s a long guy and knows how to use it,” Moraes said. “We are well-prepared and we will get inside and touch him. It is not easy, but we will work it. I will make him pay every time he tries to hit me, I will hit me first.
“He knows grappling, I know grappling. It is five rounds and it is a big opportunity if we end up fighting on the ground. In the fight, you have to find ways to beat your opponent. I think this fight will hit the ground at some point.”
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As an MMA pro, Moraes has key victories over Raphael Assunção, Jimmie Rivera, John Dodson and Aljamain Sterling. Considering he’s ranked No. 1 in the bantamweight division, a second straight win would certainly move him closer to a title shot, but Sterling has been linked to a title shot against new champion Petr Yan.
If Moraes is able to finish Sandhagen like he did Assuncao, Rivera and Sterling, it would be difficult to deny him a second shot at the title.
Meanwhile, Sandhagen will attempt to rebound from a first-round submission loss to Sterling at UFC 250 in June, ending his seven-fight winning streak. The fight with Sterling was considered a title shot eliminator, but Sandhagen could be a convincing win over Moraes away from being back in consideration.
The 28-year-old Sandhagen’s key victories have come over Assuncao and John Lineker, but a win over Moraes would undoubtedly boost his resume. He believes Moraes is the man he must go through to get closer to a shot at the bantamweight crown.
“I think Marlon gets a lot of respect, at least he gets a lot of respect from me,” Sandhagen recently said during Wednesday’s Fight Island 5 media day. “And I think he gets a lot of respect from other fighters and the fans, as well. I think me having the performance that I foresee in my head is going to really solidify me. I’m still a championship-level fighter.”
The rest of the main card on ESPN+ at 8 p.m. EST
Featherweight bout - No. 14 Edson Barboza vs. Makwan Amirkhani
Heavyweight bout - Ben Rothwell vs. Marcin Tybura
Middleweight bout - Markus Perez vs. Dricus Du Plessis
Heavyweight bout - Tom Aspinall vs. Alan Baudot
Featherweight bout - Thomas Almeida vs. Alejandro Perez
Prelims on ESPN+ at 6 p.m. EST
Featherweight bout - Youssef Zalal vs. Ilia Topuria
Middleweight bout - Tom Breese vs. KB Bhullar
Heavyweight bout - Chris Daukaus vs. Rodrigo Nascimento Ferreira
Middleweight bout - Impa Kasanganay vs. Joaquin Buckley
Bantamweight bout - Ali Al-Qaisi vs. Tony Kelley
Featherweight bout - Giga Chikadze vs. Omar Antonio Morales Ferrer
Women’s bantamweight bout - Tracy Cortez vs. Stephanie Egger
Flyweight bout - Bruno Silva vs. Tagir Ulanbekov