Cory Sandhagen has learned through plenty of past experiences to never count out Aljamain Sterling.
After their previous bout, Sterling felt that he would be witness to Sterling’s fall when he faced Petr Yan again. Instead, Sterling pulled off the improbable upset by beating Yan in a split decision to retain the title and cement himself as the best 135-pound fighter in the world.
” I was surprised,” Sandhagen said to The Fighter vs. Sterling’s victory was reacted to by The Writer When people asked me about Yan’s win, I said Yan would win. Sterling is a great fighter. There’s so many different types of fighters in the sport and there’s so many different paths to victory. I think Sterling has just done such a good job of finding his path to victory and it’s pretty great.
” It’s quite inspiring to watch someone who is able to solve problems. Even though they might not have the best technical skills, or the most efficient, the man has found a way for him to win against some of the greatest men in the world .”
Given the way Sterling shocked the world against Yan in a fight so many picked him to lose, Sandhagen has started to have even more faith in his former opponent.
Although Sandhagen is known for not liking making fight predictions, he believes strongly in Sterling and will prove them wrong when he defends his title against T.J. Dillashaw at the UFC 280 comain event.
” I would definitely not count Aljamain out at all,” Sandhagen stated. “Honestly, I have Aljamain kind of picked in this one. Not a prediction guy but most of the time it’s because I don’t think about the fights but this one I actually spent some time thinking about because I have to see Duane [Ludwig] around at local fights, we’re both in Colorado, so I’ve kind of been like ‘how’s that fight going to go?’ I have a lot of respect for Duane. T.J. is still a friend of mine on a certain level. For a few years, he was kind to me.
“I’ve given it some thought and actually think that Sterling is just going to be able to do what he does. I think that he’ll be able to take T.J. down and I think that he’ll probably be able to submit him if he can get on his back.”
Sterling has consistently proven he’s a monster in the grappling game where he’s been able to not only snatch takedowns but then to advance to his favorite position where he becomes a self-professed “human backpack.”
Add to that, Sandhagen went five rounds with Dillashaw just over a year ago — ultimately losing a controversial split decision — but that knowledge gives him an idea about what to expect in the fight against Sterling in October.
“I don’t think T.J. has the amount of punching power that he maybe used to have to be able to stop Sterling or hurt him really bad,” Sandhagen said. He doesn’t have that power, I think. From feeling them both, it’s clear that T.J. doesn’t pack the same punch as Sterling.
” I believe Sterling’s wrestling has been discredit and that he is an incredible wrestler. I also think he will be able outpower T.J .”
With his fight against Song Yadong this Saturday, Sandhagen is hoping to be back in title conversation. He would love to have Sterling or Dillashaw stand across from him in the future.
” Definitely, I want a match with my three losses at the UFC,” Sandhagen stated. “I would like one with [Petr] Yan. I also want one with T.J., and one with Sterling.
“Is that realistic? I don’t know. If the cards are in my favor, all three would be mine for completely different reasons. I would love to have those three things back