“Honestly, I don’t foresee it being the most exciting fight in the world because I think O’Malley is going to leave so much space, like how he did against Munhoz,” continued Sandhagen, who went five rounds with Yan last October in Abu Dhabi. “I don’t think he’s high-level enough to pull things out of Yan the way really, really high-level strikers are capable of doing.
“I think O’Malley does a lot better when he moves backwards, and I’m interested to see if Yan is going to press him or if he’s just going to stand there and make O’Malley come to him — I think that will be interesting — but I have Yan winning that fight.
“I can’t wait ’til it’s over and we can know for sure how good (O’Malley) is with evidence,” he added. “But based on past evidence, I don’t really think he’s the most spectacular thing in the world.”
As for the championship pairing, Sandhagen sees the bout between Sterling and Dillashaw playing out in the champion’s favor.
“I think Aljamain has a lot of physical advantages in this one,” began Sandhagen, who was submitted by the current champion at UFC 250. “I think he’s going to be the much stronger, much more powerful person in terms of being able to move TJ. Not that he’s going to be able to rag doll TJ, but I do think he’s going to be able to move TJ pretty well.
“I definitely don’t think it’s going to be an easy fight for Aljamain, but I just don’t think TJ is going to be able to stop Aljo from doing what he does best,” he added, clarifying his point. “I don’t think TJ has a way to win other than outpointing Aljamain, but TJ’s not really an outpoint you type guy — he likes to hit people hard, and I just don’t really think he’ll be able to catch Aljamain.”
Some may take umbrage with Sandhagen’s assessment that Dillashaw isn’t someone that outpoints opponents, given that the two-time bantamweight champion earned a split decision win when the two faced off last summer, but it was a ultra-competitive fight that many believe Sandhagen deserved to win, and only five of Dillashaw’s 13 career UFC wins have come on the scorecards.
“My analysis is that I think Aljamain is going to be the bigger, more physical guy, and he’s going to do what Aljamain does best, which is have awkward striking, close the distance, grab him, take his back, and win like that.
“I think the way Aljamain moves and his striking is quite awkward — and I mean awkward in a complimentary way,” he said with a laugh, making sure he it was clear he wasn’t slighting Sterling. “TJ obviously has giant advantages on the feet, but Aljamain has been able to make that work against better strikers than TJ, and I think that says a lot.”