Cory Sandhagen was delighted with his dominating performance vs. Marlon Moraes in the main event of UFC on ESPN+ 37 on Saturday. Also ecstatic was Aljamain Sterling, who submitted Sandhagen in 88 seconds at UFC 250 on June 6, 2020.
Sterling has long appeared to be next in line for a shot at bantamweight champion Petr Yan. With Moraes dropped to #3 in the rankings, and Sterling in #1, "Funk Master" now unequivocally appears next in line, as he explained during a recent episode of his podcast.
“Obviously I’m in a great mood because things could not have gone better in terms of locking up what should be, now, an obvious decision - which, it was obvious a year ago - but an obvious decision for the next title challenger at the bantamweight division,” said Sterling. “So I’m super pumped about that.
“This was the next guy who could have potentially blocked me. ... The higher powers definitely had a plan and I think that was the icing on the cake to solidify that there is no more dodging, dancing around the fact that I should be the No. 1 guy and I am the No. 1 guy.”
“I think I was the No. 1 guy last year when Pedro Munhoz knocked out Cody Garbrandt and then I beat Pedro Munhoz. That should have put me back in the No. 1 spot. It didn’t. Then I fight Cory Sandhagen, I get the win there. I was told this was a No. 1 contender fight, it didn’t happen. Then enter Dominick Cruz, he gets thrown in there. ‘Oh, Dominick Cruz, how could you not give it to him, he’s a legend? Blah, blah, blah. Henry Cejudo wants to fight him. He wants to fight the toughest guys.’ Really? You want to fight the toughest guy who is coming off a loss and being on the couch for four years?
“Okay, whatever. He got his shot, he’s a legend, I get it. If it wasn’t for Dominick Cruz, I potentially wouldn’t be in the spot that I am now, so thank you for that. But next up after him, you have Jose Aldo. . . He has to fight Marlon Moraes. Close fight, split decision, but he loses. Dana White treats it as a win for Jose Aldo, he gets a title shot, and he fights Petr Yan after Henry Cejudo retires. Vacant title, I thought I was definitely a shoo-in for that. No, Petr Yan is the shoo-in. Okay, Dana, alright. I see what you’re doing. You give Petr Yan a title shot for beating Urijah Faber. Who did he beat before that?
“After that, Aldo loses the fight, Petr Yan is the champion, I’ve got to be next. ‘Oh wait, we’re not gonna announce it yet. We’re waiting on this. Frankie Edgar is fighting Pedro Munhoz.’ Another roadblock! Do you see all the hoops I had to jump through, all the emotional stress that I was dealing with. It was just a roller coaster."
“It’s been a wild past few months. Just to think, June was just a couple months back and you’d have thought after a performance like that, even the post-fight speech setting up the stage for myself and Petr Yan, I don’t know what it is. I don’t know if I pissed in Dana White’s Cheerios or something, took his Wheaties, I don’t know if a girl that liked him might think I’m cute. I don’t know what I did to the man but it’s pretty fascinating and bizarre all at the same time that I had to do all of this to get a title shot. And I only did one thing: I just won. Everything else was out of my control.”
“Now the stars finally align, once again, with Cory Sandhagen taking out Marlon Moraes. If Marlon were to win, I’m pretty sure the UFC would have said, ‘Well, Marlon deserves another crack because Henry Cejudo retired, he’s a striker, he’s knocked guys out, this would be a great champion to have for the Brazilian market. Blah, blah, blah. He beat Sterling three years ago.’ Three years ago! I am a much different fighter and it was a short notice fight and I studied no tape on him and yeah, shame on me for that, yeah, he got the win, but to act like the guy sat there said, ‘I know he’s about to shoot, I’m gonna hit him with this knee and time it perfectly and I’m gonna look like a genius.’ That’s not what happened.”
“Let’s go get this freaking belt! Next stop, Petr Yan. I’m coming for dat ass!”