The UFC returns on February 6th to Las Vegas giving us Sandhagen vs Edgar, and a beautiful card overall. UFC Vegas 18 concludes with Overeem vs Volkov as the main event; A fight that carries a lot of weight in the title picture for the Heavyweight division! Will Overeem truly make his “last run” towards the title? Or is Alexander Volkov too deadly for him? I don’t know, and I won’t be discussing that! I know what you’re here for! Strap up, grab some fruit snacks, and get ready! The Sandhagen vs Edgar breakdown starts now!
The Matchup: Sandhagen vs Edgar
Born on April 20, 1992, Cory Sandhagen was destined for success. A professional Mixed Martial Artist since 2015, “The Sandman” is still very young in his career. He earned his spot in the UFC with back-to-back 1st rd. finishes in Legacy Fighting Alliance, or LFA for short. Upon his arrival, Sandhagen would prove he belonged even more, after going on a 5 fight killing spree, which included 3 wins by finish.
With wins over names like Iuri Alcãntara (UFC Fight Night 135), John Lineker (UFC Fight Night 150), and Raphael Assuncao (UFC 241), Cory Sandhagen was the definition of a “surging prospect”. Here enters: Aljamain Sterling.
A Mirrored Theme: Overcoming Adversity
At UFC 250, everybody knew this fight was a title eliminator for the bantamweight division. Fans were thrilled at the matchup, and talks of how good this fight could be were circulating the MMA scene. Then, the fight began; Aljo got Cory to the ground, found a way to “The Sandman’s” back, and slipped in his hooks. Reaching the “backpack” position that Aljo is so very deadly from. Everyone held their breath, as the men struggled. Before Aljamain Sterling slipped in the Rear-naked Choke, and the fight was over!
So after a tough loss to Aljo, Cory Sandhagen could’ve taken a long time off. It was his first defeat in three years, the second ever in his entire career. Not “The Sandman” though. He kept forging ahead, on a path that would eventually give us: Sandhagen vs Edgar. Taking on Marlon Moraes in a Main Event matchup at UFC Fight Island 5, just four months after the loss; Cory would deliver a beautiful spinning wheel kick that put Marlon out. Just like that, Sandhagen was back on track!
As I said, Adversity is a shared theme in the lives of these two men. For “The Sandman”, he had to get over Aljo brutally crushing his hopes of a UFC title shot. For Frankie, he had an entire career of adversity. At one time, his record was almost identical to Cory’s. Not only that, he was champion!
Before we cover the keys to victory for Sandhagen vs Edgar, we must first go back in time. It’s April 10th, 2010. UFC 112. Frankie Edgar himself is the definition of a “surging prospect” at this point. At 13-1, he’s already amassed wins over Spencer Fisher (UFC 78), Jim Miller (Reality Fighting 14), and Sean Sherk (UFC 98). Now, he’s facing Lightweight Champ, BJ Penn.
You should know the history, Frankie beat Penn not once but twice, then went to a draw with Gray Maynard, before having the trilogy fight with him at UFC 136. That’s where Edgar would knock Maynard out in rd. 2, solidifying his reign as champion. However, as we see so often in MMA, a guy always comes along who can beat the best.
Losing to Beson Henderson twice via decision (UFC 144 and 150), Edgar would drop down to 145 and fight Jose Aldo for the title (UFC 156). Losing to him by decision as well. This is the adversity I mentioned. At one point, Frankie Edgar had a resume just like Cory’s. But, he would go from being 13-1, to 15-4 in the blink of an eye.
Flashing back to present day, we’re staring down the barrel of Sandhagen vs Edgar. Frankie is 24-8-1, 2-3 out of his last 5. With his last fight being a decision win over Pedro Munhoz at 135 pounds.
Keys to Victory
Cory is a humongous favorite coming into this fight. While I won’t get into the betting odds, I’ll just say that Edgar is a major underdog. Are people sleeping on Frankie? Hard to say. The thing about “The Sandman” is he is so extremely dynamic and such a dual-threat. He’s got submissions, and he’s got great standup. Sandhagen vs Edgar could be over very quickly, or it could go all 3 rounds in a warlike fashion.
First key for Cory should be to start fast. While I’m not saying Edgar is a slow starter, we’ve historically seen his opponents have better success against him coming out hot. Next key, control the range. Frankie is a good wrestler, and someone who thrives in the pocket. “The Sandman” thrives at a distance. Where he can set up his punches with kicks, and footwork. Last key, test the grappling. While many say Frankie’s best hopes in beating Cory lies in out grappling him, I say not so fast. Sandhagen is well rounded, he should look to see early who the “better” grappler is, and maybe end up with another submission or some nice ground and pound.
I personally love this matchup of Sandhagen vs Edgar, and I believe it’s almost like pairing Frankie up with a mirror image of his former self. Like I said, their careers were almost Identical, except when Edgar started to lose, he lost more. Both men over came that adversity, while I will say Frankie had to overcome much more.
First key for Frankie, throw some kicks! Frankie’s always been far more prone to throw his hands then kicks, and I believe coming out with a bunch of leg/body/head kicks will set a tone early. The key to Frankie Edgar finding success in this 135 pound division will be to reimagine his offense. We’ve seen too much of the same out of him. It’s always some form of him getting in the pocket, and throwing punches. While he does throw kicks, I think he needs to throw much more, and add some of those devastating calf kicks to his entries and escapes, while switching it up and going to the body and head with the kicks occasionally.
This, paired with his in and out punching style, would be such a dynamic offense. Compared to his honestly repetitive style we’ve seen. The next key, make it an MMA match! When he’s darting into the pocket, how about shooting for a takedown? Maybe clinching and finding a body lock? A trip? Just get Cory to the ground, and test him. I think Sandhagen is more likely to dominate the exchanges on the feet, so both men have got to figure out who can dominate on the ground.
Sandhagen vs Edgar Prediction
So, much as I love Frankie, Cory Sandhagen proved that loss to Aljo wasn’t going to set him back. I see the fire in him, and I believe he wants that title shot more than Edgar. He’s honestly had many, many attempts at the title. How could he be more hungry, more savage, than the up-and-comer Cory Sandhagen who has never had a shot at the belt?
Then, I look at the resume of Frankie. I think of the legendary fights with Gray Maynard, Cub Swanson, Bj Penn. One thing about Edgar. He’s not the fastest, he doesn’t hit the hardest, but he might really be the toughest. This is three rounds though, so I’ve got to go with Cory by decision! Now, that concludes my Sandhagen vs Edgar article! Don’t mind me, as I repeat that phrase three times. Sandhagen vs Edgar, Sandhagen vs Edgar Sandhagen vs Edgar! Sorry, it’s just got a classic ring to it. Hmm. Maybe this fight will be so great, they redo it with 5 rounds?
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