UFC Fight Night Report: Cory Sandhagen cuts open Song Yadong, wins by doctor stoppage
On Saturday evening, the UFC held a Fight Night event at the Apex Facility in Las Vegas, Nevada. The card was headlined by a bantamweight bout between two of the hardest hitters in the division, Cory Sandhagen, and Song Yadong. Sandhagen last fought in October of 2021, where he was defeated by Petr Yan in a bout to decide the division’s interim champion while Aljamain Sterling was temporarily sidelined due to injury. Despite having losses on his record to Sterling, Yan, and T.J. Dillashaw, the division’s top three ranked fighters, Sandhagen remains one of the elite fighters at bantamweight, and a strong win against Song Yadong here would do quite a lot to earn him another shot at the divisions champion, regardless of which fighter walks out of UFC 280 with the title. For Song, this marked his biggest opportunity to date, main eventing a Fight Night event against one of the top fighters in the division. A win would catapult him to the top of the rankings, where he would be perceived as an immediate contender.
The commentary team for this card consisted of Brendan Fitzgerald, Daniel Cormier, and Paul Felder. Performance of the Night bonuses were awarded to Damon Jackson and Joe Pyfer. Fight of the Night bonuses went out to Gregory Rodrigues and Chidi Njokuani.
*Nikolas Motta def. Cameron Vancamp by TKO at 3:49 of Round 1
*Javid Basharat def. Tony Gravely by unanimous decision (29-28 all)
*Gillian Robertson def. Mariya Agapova by rear naked choke at 2:19 of Round 2
*Trey Ogden def. Daniel Zellhuber by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
*Loma Lookboonmee def. Denise Gomes by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
*Trevin Giles def. Louis Cosce by unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
*Damon Jackson def. Pat Sabatini by TKO at 1:09 of Round 1
*Anthony Hernandez def. Marc-Andre Barriault by arm triangle at 1:53 of Round 3
*Rodrigo Nascimento def. Tanner Boser by split decision (30-27, 29-28, 28-29)
*Joseph Pyfer def. Alen Amedovski by TKO at 3:55 of Round 1
*Andre Fili def. Bill Algeo by split decision (29-28, 29-28, 28-29)
*Gregory Rodrigues def. Chidi Njokuani by TKO at 1:27 of Round 2
*Cory Sandhagen def. Song Yadong by TKO at 5:00 of Round 4
NIKOLAS MOTTA (12-4, 155) VS CAMERON VANCAMP (15-6-1, 1 NC, 155.5) – LIGHTWEIGHT
Vancamp attacked the body of Motta with teep kicks early, while Motta was looking to tag him with powerful hooks. At one point, Motta kicked Vancamp in the head after Vancamp unsuccessfully attempted to catch Motta with a flying knee. Eventually, one of those huge hooks from Motta found its target, and he knocked Vancamp down hard. Motta followed Vancamp to the ground, and quickly ended the fight with ground and pound strikes.
WINNER: Nikolas Motta by TKO at 3:49 of Round 1
From the opening exchanges of this bout, the commentary team noted that Vancamp’s chin was raised high in the air, and sooner or later, Motta would make him pay for that with one of those powerful hooks that he was constantly throwing. Sure enough, it didn’t take long for Motta to capitalize, and he picked up the first-round knockout finish as a result. This marked Motta’s first win in the UFC and his ninth career victory by knockout.
TONY GRAVELY (23-7, 135.5) VS JAVID BASHARAT (12-0, 134) – BANTAMWEIGHT
Roughly a minute into the fight, there was a clash of heads that opened up a cut above Basharat’s left eyebrow. Gravely started hunting for a takedown, and he was eventually able to throw Basharat to the ground near the cage. Basharat quickly popped back to his feet, and the doctor was brought in to check on Basharat’s cut. It was determined that he could continue fighting, and Basharat stuffed a takedown attempt from Gravely as the fight resumed. The fighters traded heavy right hands before Basharat began to attack in combination, which overwhelmed Gravely and forced him to reset. A big right hand from Gravely prompted Basharat to shoot for a takedown, and while Basharat was successful in taking Gravely down, he was forced to abandon his position after a guillotine attempt from Gravely. This was a very close round. 10-9 Basharat.
Gravely began the second round with a takedown, however, Basharat was quickly able to escape to his feet. Basharat aggressively stuffed a takedown attempt from Gravely, and he began to work from half guard on the ground. Basharat attempted to transition to the back of Gravely but Gravely was able to scramble to his feet in the process. Basharat’s body shots had begun to add up by this point in the fight, and Gravely was noticeably slowing down. A head kick from Basharat found its target near the end of the round. 20-18 Basharat.
Both fighters were active in the final round, trading strikes in the center of the octagon. Basharat defended a takedown attempt from Gravely at one point and Gravely was able to stop Basharat’s attempt to bring the fight to the ground just moments later. Basharat was utilizing his range well in this third round, landing his shots and moving out of range before Gravely could respond. Ultimately, Basharat’s activity in this third round was just a bit too much for Gravely to handle, and I thought this was a fairly clear round in Basharat’s favor. 30-27 Basharat.
WINNER: Javid Basharat by unanimous decision (29-28 all)
Basharat really invested in attacking the body throughout the first two rounds, and I thought that coupled with the numerous grappling exchanges really wore on Gravely’s gas tank as the fight progressed. That’s not to say that Gravely was completely gassed out by the third round, but he did slow down, and that allowed Basharat to really pull ahead of him in terms of activity. It was a strong performance from Basharat, who maintained his undefeated professional record with this win. Basharat is now 2-0 in the UFC.
MARIYA AGAPOVA (10-3, 125.5) VS GILLIAN ROBERTSON (10-7, 125) – FLYWEIGHT
Agapova nearly trapped Robertson in a guillotine choke in the opening minute, but Robertson avoided the attempt and continued to chase after takedowns. Agapova landed numerous elbows to the head as Robertson attempted to take her down against the cage, but Robertson was able to weather the storm, and eventually got Agapova to the ground, where she worked her way onto Agapova’s back. Agapova picked herself up along the cage and broke away from Robertson with just over two minutes remaining in the round. Robertson was able to get Agapova back down near the end of the round, but once again, she ate numerous strikes in the process, and I thought this was an easy round to score for Agapova despite a late arm triangle attempt from Robertson.
There was considerable swelling above the left eye of Robertson going into the second round. It did not take long for Robertson to successfully take Agapova back to the ground, and she quickly took the back of Agapova. Robertson locked in a rear naked choke, but Agapova refused to tap, and thus, she was choked unconscious.
WINNER: Gillian Robertson by rear naked choke at 2:19 of Round 2
As Agapova went out, she was biting her tongue while practically foaming from the mouth, so this was quite the scary submission. Thankfully she appeared to be fine after regaining consciousness and did not in fact bite part of her tongue clean off, which was honestly what I was most concerned about, as she had lost her mouthpiece a few seconds prior. This was an impressive win for Robertson after taking a lot of damage in the first round. She added to a number of her divisional records following this fight, including the UFC (Women’s) flyweight records for most fights, finishes, and submission victories.
TREY OGDEN (15-5, 156) VS DANIEL ZELLHUBER (12-0, 155) – LIGHTWEIGHT
Ogden and Zellhuber exchanged kicks to begin the fight. Neither fighter was terribly active throughout this opening round, but Ogden was finding consistent success with his kicks to the lead leg of Zellhuber. Whenever Zellhuber went on the attack, he found success, but there just wasn’t enough activity from him, and as a result, Ogden likely took this round on the scorecards. 10-9 Ogden.
The pace of the fight did not increase dramatically in the second round. Ogden continued to work the lead leg Zellhuber, while Zellhuber was spending just a bit too much time waiting. It wasn’t as though this was one of those bouts in which there was no activity on either side, but there were very few moments of significance, and neither fighter ever really stepped on the gas in an attempt to secure the round. In the rounds final minute, Ogden successfully took Zellhuber to the ground. 20-18 Ogden.
Zellhuber landed a strong hook to the body to begin the final round. Despite likely being down on the scorecards, Zellhuber was unable to increase his offensive output in this third round, and once again, Ogden was able to pull ahead of Zellhuber with his own activity. I thought Zellhuber did land some of his best shots of the fight throughout this round, but it was not quite enough, and I scored this round for Ogden as well. 30-27 Ogden.
WINNER: Trey Ogden by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
I thought this was a rather dull fight, largely due to Zellhuber’s lack of activity. It was not as though Zellhuber wasn’t trying to make something happen, but he was having a lot of trouble in dealing with Ogden’s movement, and as the fight wore on, Zellhuber spent a lot of time chasing him across the octagon while landing a very low percentage of the shots he was throwing. Ogden came into this fight as the biggest underdog on the entire card, so this was a strong performance from him against an opponent who had never tasted defeat until Ogden introduced him to it here. Ogden is now 1-1 in the UFC following this win.
DENISE GOMES (6-1, 115) VS LOMA LOOKBOONMEE (6-3, 115.5) – STRAWWEIGHT
Lookboonmee landed a strong right hand before kicking Gomes to the ground with a push kick to the chest. Gomes picked herself up, but she was bleeding on the left side of her head following an earlier elbow from Lookboonmee. The fighters began to wrestle against the cage, where Gomes unsuccessfully attempted a takedown, resulting in Lookboonmee taking top position. Lookboonmee quickly worked her way to the back of Gomes, but Gomes slid out from under her and took top position, where Gomes locked in an arm triangle. Her positioning was just a bit off, and Lookboonmee was able to escape the submission attempt and take back top position. Lookboonmee landed a number of elbows from top position to end the round. 10-9 Lookboonmee.
Lookboonmee was able to take top position on the ground less than a minute into the second round. She postured up and started to throw down strong ground and pound strikes, but decided to return to her feet, where the fighters traded elbows. They wrestled in the clinch against the cage for some time, before Lookboonmee took the fight back to the ground with a head and arm throw. Once again, Lookboonmee allowed Gomes to her feet, but this time she turned her back to Gomes, and Gomes immediately attempted to capitalize on this by taking her down. Lookboonmee defended the attempt despite having her back turned and actually tripped Gomes back to the ground before time expired. 20-18 Lookboonmee.
Gomes began the third round with a heavy spinning elbow, but she was quickly taken back to the ground. Gomes attempted a leg lock, which allowed her to transition to the back of Lookboonmee moments later. Lookboonmee was able to avoid Gomes’ submission attempts, but she was unable to improve her position and spent a considerable portion of this round with Gomes on her back. With ninety seconds remaining in the fight, Lookboonmee scrambled to her feet and recorded yet another takedown. She postured up from Gomes’s side and threw down ground and pound strikes until the round reached its end. 29-28 Lookboonmee.
WINNER: Loma Lookboonmee by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
This was largely an entertaining fight, although it was certainly a strange one at times. Many of the grappling exchanges left the commentary team puzzled as to how they ended up in certain positions, but ultimately, it created an eventful fifteen minutes. Lookboonmee was the stronger striker and was able to take Gomes down at will, however, Gomes was dangerous on the ground, and she nearly caught Lookboonmee in multiple submissions throughout the bout. Lookboonmee’s UFC record improved to 4-2 following this win.
TREVIN GILES (14-4, 170) VS LOUIS COSCE (7-1, 170.5) – WELTERMWEIGHT
Neither fighter was terribly active throughout the opening minutes of this bout, as Daniel Cormier begged them to start fighting on commentary. Unfortunately, Cormier’s pleas were left unanswered, and the commentary team instead spent the round fantasizing about downing whisky instead. This round was beyond dreadful, and I am not going to pretend to offer a scorecard.
The pace did not pick up by a considerable amount in the second round. Their respective corners urged them to go on the attack, but it just wasn’t happening here. In the second half of the round, Cosce began to offer a bit more offensively, occasionally throwing out a powerful right hook. Giles eventually shot for a takedown, but the attempt was defended. Giles may have taken this round on the scorecards, but honestly, this was another very slow five-minute period that really could have been scored either way.
Cosce secured an early takedown in the third round. They were positioned close to the cage, and without a ton of room to work, Cosce opted to just lay on Giles from half guard. With a minute remaining in the round, Giles scrambled to his feet and secured a takedown of his own, but was unable to keep Cosce down for long. Mercifully, this fight eventually ended as time expired.
WINNER: Trevin Giles by unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
If it wasn’t for the rematch between Rose Namajunas and Carla Esparza, this likely would have topped my list for the worst fight of the year to this point. There was very little activity from either fighter, and there were even fewer moments of significance. When Cosce finally managed to take Giles down, he did nothing with the position, and Giles eventually returned to his feet undamaged. Giles was ultimately a bit busier than Cosce throughout the fight, and rightfully got his arm raised as a result, but this was hardly a dominant performance, and really, this was a fight to forget for both fighters. Giles’ UFC record now stands at 4-2.
DAMON JACKSON (21-4-1, 1 NC, 145.5) VS PAT SABATINI (17-3, 145.5) – FEATHERWEIGHT
Jackson rocked Sabatini with a front kick in the opening minute, and he proceeded to take top position on the ground after stuffing a desperation takedown attempt from Sabatini. Jackson took Sabatini’s back, flattened him out, postured up, and threw down ground and pound blows until the fight was stopped.
WINNER: Damon Jackson by TKO at 1:09 of Round 1
The front-kick Jackson threw caught Sabatini at the perfect moment as he ducked his head down, and Jackson gave Sabatini absolutely no room to recover after rocking him, overwhelming Sabatini with his vicious ground and pound attack. It was a great performance from Jackson, against a very tough opponent in Pat Sabatini, who was favored to win this fight going into it. Jackson’s brother passed away earlier this week, so this was quite the emotional victory, and really one of the few true feel-good moments that you’ll see in this sport, as Jackson was surrounded by his team and family following the win. Since returning to the UFC in 2020, Jackson has won five of his six bouts, with that one loss coming to Ilia Topuria, one of the most dangerous fighters in the division.
The UFC opened up the main card portion of the broadcast with a graphic in memory of Elias Theodorou, who passed away earlier this week at 34 years of age, following a battle with Stage 4 liver cancer. Theodorou made his professional MMA debut back in 2011, and it did not take long before he found himself in the UFC, where he won the middleweight bracket of The Ultimate Fighter: Nations in 2014. He would remain in the promotion until 2019, compiling a promotional record of 8-3, with those three losses coming to very solid fighters in Thiago Santos, Brad Tavares, and Derek Brunson respectively. Theodorou’s final record in the sport stands at an impressive 19-3, with his last fight taking place in December of 2021, where he defeated Bryan Baker by unanimous decision at Colorado Combat Club 10. Theodorou was an active advocate for medical cannabis and was notably the first fighter to receive a therapeutic use exemption in North America for the substance. I’d like to extend my condolences to Theodorou’s friends and family.
ANTHONY HERNANDEZ (9-2, 1 NC, 185.5) VS MARC-ANDRE BARRIAULT (14-5, 1 NC, 185) – MIDDLEWEIGHT
Hernandez shot for an early takedown, but Barriault defended the attempt, and the fighters began to fight in the clinch. It did not take long for the fighters to break apart, and both men found success landing heavy blows on the feet. Barriault attempted to climb onto the back of Hernandez, but he lost the position and Hernandez took him to the ground, where he began to throw down hard right hands as Barriault attempted to pick himself up along the cage. Barriault attempted to catch Hernandez in a guillotine choke at one point, but Hernandez easily avoided the submission, and the fighters returned to their feet, where they started trading wildly before Hernandez dragged Barriault back down, ending the round in top position.
Hernandez quickly secured another takedown in the second round. Barriault picked himself up roughly halfway through the round, but he was immediately dragged back to the ground, and all of Hernandez’s short strikes were taking their toll on Barriault, who was getting overwhelmed by Hernandez’s attack here. In the final seconds of the round, Barriault escaped to his feet and started swinging, but this was a very clear round for Hernandez regardless.
Hernandez wasted little time in throwing Barriault back to the ground in the third round, and by this point in the fight, it was clear that Barriault did not have much for Hernandez on the ground. Hernandez quickly locked in an arm triangle and choked Barriault unconscious.
WINNER: Anthony Hernandez by arm triangle at 1:53 of Round 3
Anthony Hernandez fought a fantastic fight here. Barriault certainly had his moments on the feet, but Hernandez was able to take him down at will. Hernandez’s activity on the ground really wore on Barriault, and apparently, Barriault broke a rib early in the bout, which would make those numerous grappling sequences especially unpleasant. I thought that this was Hernandez’s best performance in the UFC to date, and he has really transformed into a dangerous fighter at middleweight. Hernandez has now won three consecutive fights.
TANNER BOSER (20-8, 229) VS RODRIGO NASCIMENTO (8-1, 1 NC, 261) – HEAVYWEIGHT
Boser came out swinging, but Nascimento did not fold under the pressure, quickly taking Boser down with room to work. Nascimento was not terribly active from top position, and referee Mark Smith issued him a warning for inactivity. As a result, Nascimento tried to advance his position, but Boser used this opportunity to scramble to his feet and separate. Nascimento caught Boser with a huge right hand, and Boser opted to hold him against the cage until time expired in the round. 10-9 Nascimento.
Nascimento seemed to have the advantage in terms of power, and Boser was having difficulties maintaining the distance. Boser was still the busier fighter however and found success with his jab whenever he committed to it. At one point a heavy shot from Boser seemed to have Nascimento rocked, but if he was hurt, he recovered quickly. As the round wore on, Boser’s speed advantage was starting to give Nascimento problems, and he was falling behind in terms of activity. Nacimiento took Boser to the ground with ninety seconds to work and began to work from his back. Boser was nearly caught in a choke at one point, but escaped the hold, and ended the round with Nascimento on top of him. 19-19.
Nascimento took Boser back to the ground roughly a minute into the final round. He was able to pass into side control, before returning to side control, where he was fairly inactive. They were eventually stood up due to inactivity with thirty seconds to work, where Boser was able to land some solid strikes before time expired. 29-28 Boser on my scorecard.
WINNER: Rodrigo Nascimento by split decision (30-27, 29-28, 28-29)
For the first two rounds at least, the pace of this fight was rather impressive for two heavyweight fighters, who were both throwing all of their strikes with fight-ending intentions. By round three, Nascimento was clearly tired, but he managed to take Boser down and hold him there for the majority of the round, which was enough to earn him the round on two of the three scorecards. Personally, I scored the third round for Boser based entirely on his flurry at the end of the round, however, I wasn’t surprised to see Nascimento get his arm raised after maintaining top position for such a considerable portion of the round. After the fight, Nascimento joked that fans on his Instagram page think that he is Daniel Cormier due to their similar appearances, and asked for Canelo Álvarez/Gennady Golovkin tickets. Nascimento’s UFC record now stands at 2-1, 1 NC.
JOSEPH PYFER (9-2, 185) VS ALEN AMEDOVSKI (12-4, 185.5) – MIDDLEWEIGHT
Pyfer pressured forward, looking to trap Amedovski against the cage. Pyfer attacked the head and body in combination, showcasing impressive hand speed. Eventually, a big right hand from Pyfer floored Amedovski, and it only took one follow-up strike to finish the fight.
WINNER: Joseph Pyfer by TKO at 3:55 of Round 1
The broadcast really hyped Pyfer up prior to his UFC debut here, and he delivered with the first-round knockout finish. Pyfer fought patiently, but was always ahead of Amedovski in terms of activity, ensuring that he wouldn’t fall behind on the scorecards if it came down to that. He set up the knockout blow by feinting an uppercut, and Amedovski bit, allowing Pyfer to land the clean right hand that finished the fight. It was a fantastic debut for Pyfer, and he will be a closely watched prospect as he makes his way up the middleweight ladder.
ANDRE FILI (21-9, 1 NC, 145.5) VS BILL ALGEO (12-4, 146) – FEATHERWEIGHT
The fighters traded left hands to start the fight, as well as hard leg kicks. Fili began to work his jab, while Algeo started to focus on attacking the body in response. Both fighters showcased strong chins early, but a head kick from Fili shifted the momentum in his favor. Fili was gaining confidence on the feet, and he was really starting to pull ahead in the round as it progressed, although their output remained similar. Algeo was bleeding heavily near his right eye by the end of the opening round. 10-9 Fili.
Algeo landed some slick combinations of kicks early in round two, but his power did not seem to be bothering Fili. Fili pressed Algeo into the cage at one point but was unable to keep him there for long, and Algeo began to go on the attack after separating. Algeo was having more success in the second round, however, Fili was tagging him with counter left hooks in the middle of Algeo’s combinations, giving him something to think about whenever Algeo really turned up the aggression. At one point, Algeo landed a flush spinning wheel kick to the head of Fili. This was a close round, but I gave the edge to Algeo. 19-19.
Algeo dodged a head kick from Fili early in the third round, before flurrying forward with a combination of jabs. Fili responded with a check hook and proceeded to take Algeo down with just under four minutes to work. Fili took Algeo’s back and quickly locked in the rear naked choke. Somehow, Algeo escapes the choke, while throwing numerous left hands back at Fili. The round ultimately ended in this position, with Algeo continuing to throw strikes at Fili, who still had his back. 29-28 Fili.
WINNER: Andre Fili by split decision (29-28, 29-28, 28-29)
I was not surprised to see this fight result in a split decision, as I was quite torn on the third round myself. On one hand, you have Fili’s submission attempts on the ground, and on the other, you have Algeo throwing over forty strikes with Fili on his back. Ultimately, I did not think that Algeo did much damage with those strikes, however, it certainly resulted in a very close round, as Fili was not terribly active from Algeo’s back after failing to submit Algeo earlier. It was a very competitive bout, and a fairly entertaining one, as you would expect from these two fighters. Fili gave a very emotional post-fight interview, stating that his partner recently suffered a miscarriage, and dedicating this win to whomever that child would have grown up to become.
CHIDI NJOKUANI (22-7, 1 NC, 185.5) VS GREGORY RODRIGUES (12-4, 185.5) – MIDDLEWEIGHT
These fighters wasted little time before they started trading strikes like madmen. A knee from Njokuani cut Rodrigues open badly, and he was rocked from the blow, but he recovered quickly, and they continued to trade heavy strikes. Njokuani was getting the better of Rodrigues on the feet, landing hard shots with serious power, but Rodrigues was still very much in this fight. A straight right hand from Rodrigues knocked Njokuani to the ground, and while Njokuani was able to pop back to his feet, Rodrigues started teeing off on him with numerous strikes in the clinch, and Njokuani left the exchange in bad shape. Thankfully for Njokuani, he was able to wrap Rodrigues up in the clinch, and they spent the remainder of the round wrestling against the cage.
The cut from the opening seconds of round one above the bridge of Rodrigues’ nose was absolutely brutal, and I was shocked that the doctor allowed him to fight this second round. Rodrigues went right back on the attack as the action resumed and successfully took Njokuani down with four minutes to work. Rodrigues quickly postured up and began to throw down ground and pound blows. Njokuani was hurt and exhausted, and he just couldn’t defend himself at this point, forcing referee Mark Smith to stop the fight.
WINNER: Gregory Rodrigues by TKO at 1:27 of Round 2
This was a wild fight. Early in the bout, It looked as though Njokuani was just going to steamroll through Rodrigues, as he has done to his other UFC opponents, but Gregory Rodrigues is a ridiculously tough individual, and he staged a remarkable comeback that began with him knocking Njokuani down in the first round. After hurting Njokuani, his pressure was relentless, and Rodrigues quickly began to overwhelm Njokuani with his attack. By round two, Njokuani was hurt and tired, and Rodrigues was easily able to drag him to the ground and finish the fight. The cut on Rodrigues’ forehead was among the nastiest cuts I’ve ever seen in the sport, and referee Mark Smith was instructed to stop the fight if it got any worse, so the finish came at the perfect time for Rodrigues. It was a tremendous fight, and both of these men have established themselves among the most entertaining fighters in their division. Rodrigues improved to 4-1 in the UFC with this win.
CORY SANDHAGEN (14-4, 135.5) VS YADONG SONG (19-6, 135.5) – BANTAMWEIGHT
Sandhagen started the fight off with a takedown attempt, but Song was able to defend the attempt and keep the fight on the feet. Song caught Sandhagen with a hard left hook, which prompted Sandhagen to shoot for another takedown. Song defended the attempt yet again, and he took Sandhagen’s back after another ill-advised takedown attempt moments later. Sandhagen was able to shake Song off of him, and the remainder of the round played out on the feet, with a fairly even output between the two fighters.
A left hand from Song seemed to rock Sandhagen in the opening minute of round two, but Sandhagen recovered quickly. Eventually, Sandhagen was able to take Song down successfully, but Song popped right back to his feet. An elbow from Sandhagen cut song open above his left eye, which is not the ideal spot for a cut in this sport, as the blood was pooling into Song’s eye. This was a strong round for Sandhagen, and the commentary team was discussing whether the bout would see a third round due to the nasty cut on Song’s eyebrow.
It was determined that Song could continue fighting, and the third round began. Song cracked Sandhagen with a heavy hook, and he defended the following takedown attempt from Sandhagen. Sandhagen caught Song with another elbow, and it wasn’t long before Song’s cut was leaking again. Sandhagen found success with his jab, and his numerous level changes were giving Song a lot to think about, even as Song’s takedown defense continued to hold up. Song was trying to land these heavy lunging right hands, but he was missing his target more often than not.
In between rounds, the doctor instructed referee Herb Dean to keep a close eye on Song’s cut. Song was able to trip Sandhagen to the ground at one point, but Sandhagen quickly made it back to his feet. Song was constantly pressuring forward but was having difficulty finding his target, as Sandhagen was constantly moving, giving Song no time to set. Sandhagen was able to take Song down near the cage, and the blood from Song’s cut was really getting into his eye due to the positioning. This was another round for Sandhagen.
Once again, the doctor was brought in between rounds to check on Song, but this time, it was determined that he could not continue due to the severity of the cut, and the fight was stopped.
WINNER: Cory Sandhagen by TKO at 5:00 of Round 4
It’s often rather disappointing when a fight is stopped due to a cut, but this was not one of those instances. It was a brutal cut, and the blood was flowing directly into Song’s eye, greatly impairing his vision. I don’t think that every doctor (or referee) would have let Song go back out there for the third round, let alone the fourth, so I think he got a very fair chance here, and to his credit, Song was a game fighter from the opening round until the stoppage. I actually thought he was getting the better of Sandhagen prior to the cut, but once his vision was impaired, his offense slowed, and Sandhagen started to really pull ahead in the fight. It was a great, well-rounded, performance from Sandhagen, and he really showcased why he is one of the elite fighters in the division with this performance. In his post-fight interview, Sandhagen called out Marlon Vera and Merab Dvalishvili, stating that he would like to fight around Christmas time.