Things could not have gone much worse for Cory Sandhagen at UFC 250 in June, where he was submitted in less than 90 seconds by Aljamain Sterling in a fight that was expected to set the winner up for a bantamweight title shot. He made up for that loss in a big way Saturday in his UFC Fight Night main event against Marlon Moraes, scoring a highlight-reel head-kick knockout in the second round.
Sandhagen looked sharp from the jump, using his reach advantage to keep Moraes at bay while drilling in leg kicks that left the leg of Moraes battered and bruised. Moraes continued to try and figure out the puzzle of Sandhagen's long limbs by jumping in with wild overhand rights and starting to work his own leg kick game.
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But a Sandhagen head kick turned the tide shortly before the finish. After the kick landed, Sandhagen shouted to his corner during the action that Moraes' orbital bone was broken.
"Marlon is a really dangerous guy, so it was keep myself safe with the distance, other than that it was just be better than him. I wasn't sure how he would come out, I didn't know if it would be on the more intense side or less intense side, he was a little bit less intense," Sandhagen said. "I think I hurt him with a couple of body shots, I kicked him in the head pretty good and I saw swelling right off the bat, which usually means an orbital break, so I was going to attack that side. I knew that he would be wary about the body shots, I know he heard my corner say something about that too, is I went to the head afterwards."
After a sharp first round, it took little time for Sandhagen to show a bit of flash, throwing a spinning heel kick and sending Moraes crashing to the canvas for the stoppage at the 1:03 mark of Round 2.
After the win, Sandhagen said he believed that he just needed one more win to earn a title shot at the winner of a potential fight between Sterling and bantamweight champ Petr Yan.
"I want a number one contender fight. I think Sterling should get the shot against Yan, he performed perfectly against me, and then I want, TJ is coming back in January, Frankie is still available, so one of those guys and then the belt afterwards," Sandhagen said. "It's hard to describe, I can be a really intense guy, I can be pretty tough, so it's just being that, it's hard to explain. Now they can see that I can knock them out, that's what I've been working on. I don't want to just go out and out point people, I want to knock people out, so that's what we did."
With the victory, Sandhagen improved to 6-1 in the UFC, including four wins by stoppage.
CBS Sports was with you the entire way on Saturday bringing you all the results and highlights from the UFC Fight Night card.
UFC Fight Night card and results
- Cory Sandhagen def. Marlon Moraes via second-round TKO (kick, punches)
- Edson Barboza def. Makwan Amirkhani via unanimous decision (30-26, 30-27, 29-28)
- Marcin Tybura def. Ben Rothwell via unanimous decision (29-27, 29-27, 29-27)
- Dricus du Plessis def. Markus Perez via first-round TKO (punches)
- Tom Aspinall def. Alan Baudot via first-round TKO (elbows, punches)
- Ilia Topuria def. Youssef Zalal via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)