LAS VEGAS – Returning to the cage after an 11-month layoff, Cory Sandhagen was able to strike a nasty cut early against fellow bantamweight contender Song Yadong, forcing the attending doctor to call off the fight at the end of the fourth frame.
That matchup headlined Saturday's UFC Fight Night 210 event at the UFC Apex.
Sandhagen walked forward at the start of the contest, switching stances and mixing attacks with punches and kicks, as well as testing his opponent's wrestling defense early. Midway through the round, it was Song who was actually able to bring the fight to the canvas, slipping to his opponent's back briefly, but Sandhagen was able to escape back to the feet and reset.
Sandhagen kept his volume high for the remainder of the round, but Song found the mark with a handful of stiff punches along the way, as well.
Song rushed forward quickly to start the second, loading up with big punches as Sandhagen tried to stay mobile on the outside. Song briefly wobbled Sandhagen with a crisp left early in the frame, though he recovered quickly and looked to do damage in tight with well-placed elbows.
Blood started to trickle down the faces of both men as the round wore on, with Song taking a nasty slice over his left eye, though referee Herb Dean allowed the action to continue until the bell before the doctor was brought in to take a look at the jagged wound.
Song was aggressive again to start the third, but Sandhagen's movement kept him away from his opponent's biggest punches. Sandhagen's variety of attacks in reply scored points and again drew a steady stream of blood down Song's face from the worsening cut over the eye. Song tried to load up on big punches down the middle, but Sandhagen bobbed and weaved his way out of trouble.
The doctor again closely inspected the cut between frames but again allowed the action to continue.
Song pressed forward to start the fourth, landing a few heavy shots down the middle before quickly sweeping his opponent to the canvas. Sandhagen wasted little time in scrambling back to the feet and working to the outside position before backing away, where the two resumed trading strikes in the pocket.
As the round wore on, Sandhagen's volume again was the story, and he shot forward for a takedown with a little more than a minute remaining, and he finished the frame in top position. At the close of the round, the physician again inspected the wound and this time decided he had seen enough, calling off the action before the start of the fifth.
At the time, the fight was even on two judges' cards, with Sandhagen up three rounds to one on the third.
"Song's good, man," Sandhagen said after the win. "I knew he was going to be good. I hate that it ended that way. I think that he deserved a fifth round. I wanted to see the fifth round, ... but that's what I care about, is winning. I won. I cut him bad in the first, and I'm happy about it."
Sandhagen (15-4 MMA, 8-3 UFC), who entered the fight ranked No. 4 in the UFC's official bantamweight rankings, snaps a disappointing two-fight skid with the win, while Song (19-7-1 MMA, 8-2-1 UFC), who was at No. 10, sees a three-fight win streak come to an end."
Complete UFC Fight Night 210 results include:
MAIN CARD (ESPN+)
- Cory Sandhagen def. Song Yadong via TKO (doctor stoppage) – Round 4, 5:00
- Gregory Rodrigues def. Chidi Njokuani via TKO (punches) – Round 2, 1:27
- Andre Fili def. Bill Algeo via split decision (28-29, 29-28, 29-28)
- Joe Pyfer def. Alen Amedovski via TKO (punches) – Round 1, 3:55
- Rodrigo Nascimento def. Tanner Boser via split decision (30-27, 28-29, 29-28)
- Anthony Hernandez def. Marc-Andre Barriault via technical submission (arm-triangle choke) – Round 3, 1:53
PRELIMINARY CARD (ESPN+)
- Damon Jackson def. Pat Sabatini via verbal submission (punches) – Round 1, 1:09
- Trevin Giles def. Louis Cosce via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
- Loma Lookboonmee def. Denise Gomes via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
- Trey Ogden def. Daniel Zellhuber via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
- Gillian Robertson def. Mariya Agapova via technical submission (rear-naked choke) – Round 2, 2:19
- Javid Basharat def. Tony Gravely via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
- Nikolas Motta def. Cameron VanCamp via TKO (punches) – Round 1, 3:49
This story first published at SI.com/MMA.