Cory Sandhagen is enjoying how things are unfolding in his weight class.
There’s been plenty going on in the UFC’s 135-pound division, as several legends have returned, notable names have dropped down in weight to test the waters, and high-profile bouts have been booked. But most significantly, champion Henry Cejudo retired from the sport and vacated his title.
Sandhagen (12-1 MMA, 5-0 UFC) is glad Cejudo laid down the gloves and he’s not that bothered by the UFC’s decision to book Jose Aldo vs. Petr Yan, a bout which is in the works but does not yet have an official date.
“Yeah I love that Henry left,” Sandhagen told MMA Junkie. “I’m pumped that Henry left, his personality was annoying to me. I know that it wasn’t real but it was annoying to me. I think his choices in Aldo and Cruz were also lame, but I see his argument too. He wanted to sell pay-per-view buys and wanted to beat a couple of legends and take off. So I get it, but he was annoying and I’m glad that he’s gone.
“And although they chose Yan vs. Aldo, I’m till not stressing about it. I still think I’m fighting for a belt at some point this year whether it’s fall or the end of the year or whatever, I’m not stressing. I’ve been doing really good and I’ve been getting really good matches, so I’m still comfortable. I’m still Ok with what’s going on.”
Cejudo’s retirement came as a surprise to many, as he was coming off big wins and many believe he’s well in his prime.
But that wasn’t the only surprise in the division. It was believed that Aljamain Sterling, who Sandhagen is set to fight at Saturday’s UFC 250, would fight Yan for the vacant title, as they’re both in the division’s top five. Aldo, although a former longtime champion at featherweight and big name in the lower weight-classes, has yet to log a win at 135-pounds after a failed debut against Marlon Moraes.
Sandhagen does think the UFC’s decison to go with Aldo and Yan is a bit strange, but he understands it and appears not to be bothered.
“That was also weird, but Aldo is a huge name and I don’t necessarily see it as it could be a terrible thing because whether Yan or Aldo win, whatever,” Sandhagen explained. “Aldo is a pretty huge name and that also draws a lot of attention to the division, so either one of them, it doesn’t matter.
“I plan on beating Sterling on Saturday and hopefully fighting for that belt in the fall time. So whether Aldo beats Yan or Yan beats Aldo, it doesn’t matter – that’s just more hype on the division anyway. And then that gives me more hype going into the fight in fall, so it’s all good. People get really caught up on, ‘Oh this guys is a big name, they’re really hyping this guy up.’ But at the end of the day, if you beat that guy, then all the hype is on you too so that’s kind of the route that I’m having to take where I’m not necessarily maybe getting as much attention as I possibly should in the division – I don’t know if thats true or not, that’s what people are telling me – but at the same time Sterling is fairly a big name. If beat him then I also turn into a big name so that’s all good.”
UFC 250 takes place Saturday at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas. The main card airs on pay-per-view following prelims on ESPN and early prelims on UFC Fight Pass/ESPN+.