UFC Battle Evening takeaways — Cory Sandhagen strategically takes down Music Yadong, however his callout was the top turner

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What have been the largest moments from this UFC Battle Evening? What’s subsequent for one of many bantamweight division’s high contenders? Jeff Wagenheim, Marc Raimondi and Brett Okamoto provide their takeaways from UFC’s return Saturday evening’s struggle card.

Cory Sandhagen made 14 takedown makes an attempt and was unsuccessful on each one in every of them till there was barely a minute to go in Spherical 4 of Saturday’s UFC fundamental occasion in Las Vegas. It does not sound like a successful technique, does it?

Effectively, it was. By recurrently threatening to take the struggle to the canvas, Sandhagen primarily disarmed Song Yadong, remodeling him from a harmful puncher right into a defensive wrestler. Each second Music spent sprawling to fend off a shot was one wherein he wasn’t unleashing his potent offense.

“Rob the man of his energy, you realize?” Sandhagen stated. “He is a hell of a striker.”

Music did get that hanging assault going at occasions, particularly within the first two rounds, when he knocked Sandhagen backward a few occasions with straight proper fingers. Nevertheless it was Sandhagen who landed the telling blow, an upward lead elbow in Spherical 1 that opened a nasty gash above Music’s left eye. The bleeding and swelling received worse because the struggle wore on, and simply earlier than Spherical 5 started, referee Herb Dean waved it off on the recommendation of the cage-side physician.

Sandhagen was dissatisfied by that. “I feel that he deserved a fifth spherical,” he stated. “I needed to see the fifth spherical. I needed to see the scorecards to see if I used to be successful or not.”

Because it turned out, he wasn’t. Had the struggle gone on, it will have entered the ultimate spherical up for grabs. Two of the three judges had 38-38 scorecards.

However Sandhagen did his job to finish the struggle. When the fighters spoke briefly earlier than the decision was introduced, Music appeared to inform Sandhagen that the streaming blood left him unable to see out his left eye.

Sandhagen badly wanted this win after coming into the bout on a two-fight skid. Sure, the losses had come towards a pair of former UFC bantamweight champions, Petr Yan and T.J. Dillashaw. And sure, Sandhagen’s solely different UFC defeat had come towards the reigning champ, Aljamain Sterling. Nonetheless, a shedding streak redirects a fighter’s profession trajectory in a downward course, which put Sandhagen within the cage with Music, a younger star within the making.

This struggle ought to make stronger each males. Sandhagen is again within the win column for the primary time in a yr and a half. And Music confirmed that his future may need arrived. The 24-year-old from China was No. 1 in ESPN’s most up-to-date top 25 MMA fighters under age 25 voting in December, and final month he was named the most effective 24-year-old in ESPN’s rating of the top MMA fighters at every age, from age 21 to 42. However neither of these accolades stack as much as spending 4 rounds on even floor with a top-10 bantamweight.

Amongst these watching from ringside was Sterling, the champ, who was handled to a preview viewing of two contenders headed his means. — Wagenheim

What’s subsequent for Cory Sandhagen?

Cory Sandhagen, bantamweight (defeated Music Yadong by fourth-round TKO)

Who Ought to be subsequent: Merab Dvalishvili

Instantly after Sandhagen’s win on Saturday, he talked about Dvalishvili by title as a possible subsequent opponent. That in itself is attention-grabbing. Go forward, cup your hand round your ears and hear. You will not hear anybody saying Dvalishvili’s title. For Sandhagen to name the person out reveals confidence. Dvalishvili appears intent on staying at bantamweight, however he refuses to struggle his teammate Aljamain Sterling. No matter what occurs there long-term, it means Dvalishvili is on the lookout for a high, non-title opponent within the quick time period. Sandhagen suits the outline.

Wildcard: Marlon Vera

Sandhagen did a wonderful job along with his callouts. Dvalishvili was good, as was Vera. Stylistically, this one speaks to actual struggle followers. It is a gorgeous matchup between two lengthy, intelligent strikers with loads of killer intuition. This struggle has to occur sooner or later. Whether or not it is subsequent or not, I do not know. Nevertheless it’s an excellent struggle. — Okamoto

Motion’ Jackson will get it performed for his late brother

On paper, Pat Sabatini vs. Damon Jackson seemed like a well-recognized little bit of UFC matchmaking. Sabatini, a prospect with Division-I wrestling credentials on a six-fight successful streak, was matched up with Jackson, a 10-year UFC veteran on his second stint with the UFC. Jackson was positioned right here as a gatekeeper. If Sabatini may get by him, he could be a future participant within the featherweight division. Sabatini was a 2-to-1 favourite, per Caesars Sportsbook.

Jackson ripped up the UFC’s script — and did so simply days after his brother Bradley’s dying. Taking up the nickname “Motion,” a reputation given to him by his brother as a baby, Jackson ran by means of Sabatini through TKO in simply 69 seconds. Jackson stated there was “no likelihood” he wouldn’t struggle, even after his brother’s dying.

“That is the one time I really feel regular, once I get to come back out right here and compete,” Jackson stated.

Jackson, 34, isn’t any stranger to battling again from adversity — and his coach, Sayif Saud, is at all times keen to get into the foxhole with him. Jackson was forged apart by the UFC in 2016, then went 8-2, primarily in PFL and LFA, to earn a spot again on the UFC roster in 2020. After shedding through first-round knockout to Ilia Topuria in his second struggle again with the promotion, Jackson is now on a four-fight successful streak, together with two finishes. “The Leech,” or on this case “Motion,” would possibly by no means win a UFC title, however he is one of many individuals — the inspirational characters — who make MMA in contrast to every other sport on the earth. — Raimondi

Gillian Robertson’s in a league of her personal

Gillian Robertson had a maintain of a leg as she grappled towards the cage, and he or she refused to let go, at the same time as Mariya Agapova relentlessly smashed elbows to the facet of her head. Robertson was sticking together with her takedown try as a result of she knew that the struggle was hanging within the steadiness although it was early in Spherical 1.

“Irrespective of who it’s,” Robertson stated afterward, “as soon as I get to the bottom, I do know I am getting my choke.”

That she did, though the rear-naked choke end did not come till 2:19 of the second spherical. By then, Robertson had tried seven takedowns and had been profitable on three. She absorbed a variety of headshots alongside the way in which, however each time she received the struggle to the mat, she relentlessly chased a submission.

That was no shock. Robertson got here into the bout with essentially the most submissions of any girl in UFC historical past. After including yet one more on Saturday, she has six — as many because the mixed complete of the three girls who put on UFC title belts, bantamweight/featherweight Amanda Nunes (three), flyweight Valentina Shevchenko (two) and strawweight Carla Esparza (one).

The unranked Robertson (11-7) just isn’t at championship stage, however when she’s combating on the canvas, she’s an unmatched terror. — Wagenheim

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