UFC Combat Night time takeaways — Cory Sandhagen strategically takes down Track Yadong, however his callout was the top turner



What have been the most important moments from this UFC Combat Night time? What’s subsequent for one of many bantamweight division’s prime contenders? Jeff Wagenheim, Marc Raimondi and Brett Okamoto supply their takeaways from UFC’s return Saturday night time’s combat card.

Cory Sandhagen made 14 takedown makes an attempt and was unsuccessful on each considered one of them till there was barely a minute to go in Spherical 4 of Saturday’s UFC primary occasion in Las Vegas. It would not sound like a successful technique, does it?

Properly, it was. By frequently threatening to take the combat to the canvas, Sandhagen basically disarmed Song Yadong, remodeling him from a harmful puncher right into a defensive wrestler. Each second Track spent sprawling to fend off a shot was one by which he wasn’t unleashing his potent offense.

“Rob the man of his energy, you understand?” Sandhagen mentioned. “He is a hell of a striker.”

Track did get that hanging assault going at occasions, particularly within the first two rounds, when he knocked Sandhagen backward a few occasions with straight proper fingers. Nevertheless it was Sandhagen who landed the telling blow, an upward lead elbow in Spherical 1 that opened a nasty gash above Track’s left eye. The bleeding and swelling obtained worse because the combat wore on, and simply earlier than Spherical 5 started, referee Herb Dean waved it off on the recommendation of the cage-side physician.

Sandhagen was disillusioned by that. “I believe that he deserved a fifth spherical,” he mentioned. “I wished to see the fifth spherical. I wished to see the scorecards to see if I used to be successful or not.”

Because it turned out, he wasn’t. Had the combat gone on, it will have entered the ultimate spherical up for grabs. Two of the three judges had 38-38 scorecards.

However Sandhagen did his job to finish the combat. When the fighters spoke briefly earlier than the decision was introduced, Track appeared to inform Sandhagen that the streaming blood left him unable to see out his left eye.

Sandhagen badly wanted this win after coming into the bout on a two-fight skid. Sure, the losses had come towards a pair of former UFC bantamweight champions, Petr Yan and T.J. Dillashaw. And sure, Sandhagen’s solely different UFC defeat had come towards the reigning champ, Aljamain Sterling. Nonetheless, a shedding streak redirects a fighter’s profession trajectory in a downward route, which put Sandhagen within the cage with Track, a younger star within the making.

This combat ought to improve each males. Sandhagen is again within the win column for the primary time in a yr and a half. And Track confirmed that his future may need arrived. The 24-year-old from China was No. 1 in ESPN’s most up-to-date top 25 MMA fighters under age 25 voting in December, and final month he was named one of the best 24-year-old in ESPN’s rating of the top MMA fighters at every age, from age 21 to 42. However neither of these accolades stack as much as spending 4 rounds on even floor with a top-10 bantamweight.

Amongst these watching from ringside was Sterling, the champ, who was handled to a preview viewing of two contenders headed his approach. — Wagenheim

What’s subsequent for Cory Sandhagen?

Cory Sandhagen, bantamweight (defeated Track Yadong by fourth-round TKO)

Who Ought to be subsequent: Merab Dvalishvili

Instantly after Sandhagen’s win on Saturday, he talked about Dvalishvili by title as a possible subsequent opponent. That in itself is attention-grabbing. Go forward, cup your hand round your ears and hear. You will not hear anybody saying Dvalishvili’s title. For Sandhagen to name the person out reveals confidence. Dvalishvili appears intent on staying at bantamweight, however he refuses to combat his teammate Aljamain Sterling. No matter what occurs there long-term, it means Dvalishvili is on the lookout for a prime, non-title opponent within the brief time period. Sandhagen matches the outline.

Wildcard: Marlon Vera

Sandhagen did a wonderful job along with his callouts. Dvalishvili was good, as was Vera. Stylistically, this one speaks to actual combat followers. It is an attractive matchup between two lengthy, intelligent strikers with loads of killer intuition. This combat has to occur sooner or later. Whether or not it is subsequent or not, I do not know. Nevertheless it’s an amazing combat. — Okamoto

Motion’ Jackson will get it accomplished for his late brother

On paper, Pat Sabatini vs. Damon Jackson regarded like a well-recognized little bit of UFC matchmaking. Sabatini, a prospect with Division-I wrestling credentials on a six-fight successful streak, was matched up with Jackson, a 10-year UFC veteran on his second stint with the UFC. Jackson was positioned right here as a gatekeeper. If Sabatini may get by him, he may be a future participant within the featherweight division. Sabatini was a 2-to-1 favourite, per Caesars Sportsbook.

Jackson ripped up the UFC’s script — and did so simply days after his brother Bradley’s loss of life. Taking over the nickname “Motion,” a reputation given to him by his brother as a toddler, Jackson ran by Sabatini through TKO in simply 69 seconds. Jackson mentioned there was “no probability” he wouldn’t combat, even after his brother’s loss of life.

“That is the one time I really feel regular, once I get to return out right here and compete,” Jackson mentioned.

Jackson, 34, is not any stranger to battling again from adversity — and his coach, Sayif Saud, is all the time prepared to get into the foxhole with him. Jackson was solid apart by the UFC in 2016, then went 8-2, primarily in PFL and LFA, to earn a spot again on the UFC roster in 2020. After shedding through first-round knockout to Ilia Topuria in his second combat again with the promotion, Jackson is now on a four-fight successful streak, together with two finishes. “The Leech,” or on this case “Motion,” may by no means win a UFC title, however he is one of many individuals — the inspirational characters — who make MMA in contrast to some other sport on this planet. — Raimondi

Gillian Robertson’s in a league of her personal

Gillian Robertson had a maintain of a leg as she grappled towards the cage, and she or he refused to let go, at the same time as Mariya Agapova relentlessly smashed elbows to the facet of her head. Robertson was sticking along with her takedown try as a result of she knew that the combat was hanging within the stability regardless that it was early in Spherical 1.

“Regardless of who it’s,” Robertson mentioned afterward, “as soon as I get to the bottom, I do know I am getting my choke.”

That she did, though the rear-naked choke end did not come till 2:19 of the second spherical. By then, Robertson had tried seven takedowns and had been profitable on three. She absorbed numerous headshots alongside the best way, however each time she obtained the combat to the mat, she relentlessly chased a submission.

That was no shock. Robertson got here into the bout with essentially the most submissions of any lady in UFC historical past. After including another on Saturday, she has six — as many because the mixed complete of the three girls who put on UFC title belts, bantamweight/featherweight Amanda Nunes (three), flyweight Valentina Shevchenko (two) and strawweight Carla Esparza (one).

The unranked Robertson (11-7) just isn’t at championship degree, however when she’s combating on the canvas, she’s an unmatched terror. — Wagenheim

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