UFC bantamweight contender Cory Sandhagen is more concerned with competing against the best than becoming world champion.

Although he envisions himself becoming a bantamweight champion down the line, Sandhagen (13-2 MMA, 6-1 UFC) thinks gold is inevitably in his future if he’s able to continue taking out the division’s top contenders.

After a 5-0 start to his UFC tenure, which included wins over the likes of John Lineker and Raphael Assuncao, Sandhagen saw his momentum hit the buffers when he was quickly submitted by Aljamain Sterling at UFC 250 in June.

It was a wake-up call for Sandhagen, who was later able to re-establish himself as a title contender by taking out Marlon Moraes at UFC Fight Night 179 in October.

“I was supposed to say that (happened) this year, but that didn’t happen this year. So yeah, hopefully, it’ll happen next year,” Sandhagen told MMA Junkie on becoming champion. “I’m kind of in a groove where I’m not being too obsessive about any of that stuff. I think that it locks up my mind too much and it makes me uncreative. It doesn’t do a lot for me in my life other than creating stress that doesn’t really need to be there. Although that stress is a good stress, in the past it’s kind of become something that’s a little too distracting.”

In less than three years with the UFC, Sandhagen has already competed against some of the most notable names in the division. On Feb. 6, he draws arguably the biggest one to date in former lightweight champion Frankie Edgar (24-8-1 MMA, 18-8-1 UFC) at a UFC Fight Night event – and that’s how he’d like his career to continue panning out.

“Of course I want to be a world champion, but I think I value higher just beating the best guys in the world,” Sandhagen said. “That’s why I’m really excited to fight Frankie because that would be a really big notch in my belt, and it would add to the resume even more.

“I’m big, and I value very highly fighting the guys I see as some of the best guys in the world, and that’s what I want to do in the sport. If I’m a world champion, I think that will happen in time, but I’m more concerned with fighting the best guys so I can be the best fighter that I can by the time I retire.”

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