An injury to the UFC bantamweight champion, Aljamain Sterling, has postponed his rematch against Petr Yan. Instead, we have arguably a more interesting fight as No. 1 contender Cory Sandhagen steps in on a month’s notice for a shot at UFC gold albeit an interim UFC title.
Yan (15-2-0) will be a sizable betting favorite here per the UFC odds. His only loss in the UFC has come via that infamous disqualification to Sterling. Sandhagen (14-3-0) is no stranger to being an underdog and despite officially losing his last bout, in most folks’ minds, including his own, he has only lost to Sterling.
These men share something in common but come Saturday, they will be nothing more than opponents.
- Date: Saturday, Oct. 30, 2 p.m. ET
- Venue: Etihad Arena, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
- Watch on: ESPN+
Petr Yan vs Cory Sandhagen
- Weight Class: Bantamweight (135)
- Rounds: Five (Championship Co-Main Event)
- Moneyline: Cory Sandhagen +180, Petr Yan -230
- Totals: Over 4½ (-135o), Under 4½ (+105u)
With nicknames like “No Mercy” and “The Sandman,” Yan and Sandhagen could easily be a part of a superhero’s rogue gallery and their fighting styles give justice to it. Yan has violently finished legends in Jose Aldo and Urijah Faber while Sandhagen has also finished former champions in Frankie Edgar and Marlon Moraes.
They are both coming off losses on their records but these did not diminish their stock one bit. As far as everyone is concerned, Yan and Sandhagen are the hottest fighters in the division. While a finish is possible here, there is plenty of value in betting online for this fight to go to decision.
Sandhagen Must Finish
Around 48.6% of UFC bantamweight fights end in a finish of sort and Sandhagen’s 71.4% finishing rate is more than above average. Still, finishing a granite-chinned Russian like Yan is a step up from fading fighters like Edgar and Moraes.
Sandhagen has gone to decision three times in the UFC, winning two of three. As a fighter who trains to finish fights, Sandhagen can run the risk of putting a lot of his juice on a finishing blow or a submission. The Colorado native throws caution to the wind, which can lead to mixed results like his bout against former champion T.J. Dillashaw.
At +180, Sandhagen is an exciting underdog to back. The 29-year-old can throw flying knees or spinning kicks or jump into guard for a submission. The best UFC bet for him is to win via a finish. But he must also focus on fighting defensively, namely not giving up his back or letting Yan control the fight with his wrestling.
Yan Has Trump Card
Although known primarily as a striker, Yan is more than a capable wrestler. He tends to use this defensively, hence why he has a 90% takedown defense. But with a 2.14 takedown average per 15 minutes, Yan can give Sandhagen fits by constantly pulling him down.
Yan will be giving up four inches in height, but that will work to his advantage in wrestling. The lanky Sandhagen has been taken down in almost all of his fights. The former champion does not have wrestling credentials, but he is a prolific MMA wrestler like Jon Jones.
More notably, Yan is a poised and patient fighter. He will not be thrown off by Sandhagen’s unpredictability. He weathered Sterling’s storm then took over until the ill-advised knee. He won’t make the same mistake.
Yan vs Sandhagen: Who Wins?
There is plenty of appeal to taking Sandhagen here. By all means, take the dog shot on him from the online sportsbook. However, over the course of 25 minutes, the more technical and calculated Yan will get the edge.
Look for Yan to exploit Sandhagen’s wrestling deficiency and to make him pay for his risky attacks. Yan should win this over five rounds.