Earlier this year Cory Sandhagen got the biggest win of his career in his split decision win over John Linekar. It was of course a debatable win. For me Sandhagen didn't win, but it is irrelevant because he did.
Fast forward 4 months and he is fighting again. Yet you would never have guessed it. Where has the promotion been? Non-existent. Has there been any talk on social media? Hardly. Is this indicative of the current state of the UFC and MMA? Yes it is.
What we have with Sandhagen is a HUGE prospect. He is 27 years old 11-1 in his MMA career and 4-0 in the UFC with only one fight going the distance. That fight was the aforementioned battle with a grizzled veteran in John Linekar. Nobody expected that fight to be a clean sweep for him, but he got it done. His only loss in the entire sport was a decision loss to Jamall Emmers (if you ask who, go watch him be knocked out by Julien Erosa on DWTNC series). Emmers is actually a great fighter on the local scene and it is not a loss to worry about early in your career. I digress.
The point is Sandhagen is a fucking beast. He knocks people out, he's prepared to trade, he's somewhat flashy, he's young and he's not a bad looking kid. So why no fan fare? To be honest with you, I have no idea. Normally MMA twitter is awash with chat about unseen talent like this, but not this time and not for this upcoming card. UFC 241 is this weekend, it features a heavyweight title fight, Diaz vs Pettis and Romero vs Costa. It most certainly is a tantalising line up. Where is Sandhagen? Well, he's not even headlining the prelims.
Sandhagen faces tough, durable and perennial contender Raphael Assuncao. This is a huge fight, with massive rankings implications, and who is headlining above them? Devonte Smith and Khama Worthy. Yep. Worthy hasn't even fought in the UFC and he has a higher spot on the card. Oh, I hear you ask, but what about the main card, who is the first fight on that? Derek Brunson.......I'll just leave that there.
Not only do the UFC want this card to be less entertaining by not featuring Sandhagen on the main card, but they also won't even feature him on the prelims. Why? My only thought goes to the fact the UFC have just released John Linekar, who has since signed with One Championship, and now they are going to try and bury Linekar's legitimacy, like they do with all fighters who leave. Just look at the way Mousasi, Cyborg and DJ in recent times after their moves away from the UFC.
More concerning is the lack of support I have seen on social media. It seems as though the commenters haven't forgiven him for the questionable decision earlier this year. Is he no longer the darling? Where are the articles discussing his rise? Where are the comments about where he goes next after this fight? No where to be seen. It is tragic. Many of these people will be the same to moan when fighter's aren't paid well enough. They are only worth what the viewing figures say.
Sadly it looks like another hugely talented fighter might just get lost in the shuffle and burst his hype bubble. I hope it's not the case. Let's see if he can get the big finish he needs over Assuncao and then we can talk title eliminator. Let's face it, the UFC or fans won't allow that, despite how good he is. Let's all go back to loving Zabit and Yair instead.