Cory Sandhagen explains callout of Merab Dvalishvili: ‘Who am I to ask for a title before him?’
SAN ANTONIO – For as intentionally corny as his UFC on ESPN 43 post-fight callout was, Cory Sandhagen says it came from a place of honesty and respect.
Following his victory Saturday at AT&T Center, Sandhagen (17-4 MMA, 10-3 UFC) didn’t call for a title shot, no. He called out No. 1 bantamweight in the official UFC rankings, Merab Dvalishvili (16-4 MMA, 9-2 UFC) instead.
“Merab, you’re hungry? Well, I’ve got something for you to eat and it don’t taste good,” Sandhagen yelled into the microphone during his in-cage winner’s circle interview.
“How stupid is that?” Sandhagen laughed backstage afterward at a post-fight news conference. “It was supposed to be as stupid as possible, so I hope that I accomplished that.”
The callout was lighthearted, but Sandhagen zoned in Dvalishvili because he thought it was obtainable and deserved. In a sport where unique characters constantly try to one-up each other in a mad dash for money fights, Sandhagen is OK being mellow and fair in his approach.
“I think Merab is the best guy in the division right now, outside who is fighting for the title,” Sandhagen said. “I don’t want to shy away from challenges. I don’t want to be that guy. I want to inspire people. I don’t want to cherrypick my fights all the way to the top. I want to fight the best guys, so that when I do get the title, I can defend it because I’m experienced. I think Merab is a perfect type of challenge for my type of style, for my type of fighting. He’s going to make me train really hard because of how good he is.
“Those are the types of guys I want to fight. If I can get past him, then I 100 percent deserve a title shot. Like I said, I don’t want to be cherry-picking. The guy is on a nine-fight winning streak. Who am I to ask for a title before him? I’m not going to set that standard in MMA. People should be more real about it.”
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Sandhagen rides a two-fight winning streak as he takes one step closer toward a potential title opportunity. However, he’s stuck between a rock and hard place when it comes to the timing he anticipates for his return.
In need of elbow surgery that could put him out of action for a while, Sandhagen said he also hopes to keep his fiancee happy by not being in fight camp during their upcoming wedding.
“I got pretty hurt a couple times in this camp,” Sandhagen said. “I might need elbow surgery. I was kind of going into it not 100 percent, but not enough to b*tch super hard about it. I might need elbow surgery. I get married on Sept. 1. My fiancee will kill me if we have the wedding and I have to still be training for a fight, so it’ll definitely have to be before Sept. 1 or my fiancee will kill both me and Merab. She’s feisty.”
For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC on ESPN 43.