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Cory Sandhagen Gives His Thoughts On UFC 280 Bantamweight Matchups

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“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.”

FREE FIGHTS: Sterling vs Yan 2 | Dillashaw vs Sandhagen

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.

FREE FIGHTS: Yan vs Faber | O’Malley vs Almeida

“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.”

Next Steps

The Best Moments From Season 6 Of Dana White’s Contender Series

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A star was born on Week 1 of Season 6.

After a night of underwhelming results, Dana White couldn’t have been happier with the performance of middleweight Joe Pyfer, who knocked out Ozzy Diaz in the second round of their main event bout. Pyfer showed urgency, emotion and, most importantly to White and the UFC, talent.

MORE PYFER: Athlete Profile | Recap Pyfer’s UFC Debut

It was the perfect redemption story for Pyfer, who was defeated in his DWCS Season 4 bout due to a freak arm injury. White exclaimed that fighters competing on DWCS who want to make it to the UFC need to “be Joe Pyfer,” and just like that, a new catchphrase was born.

Pyfer followed up his incredible DWCS performance with a beautiful first-round knockout victory in his UFC debut on September 17, and has quickly become one of the most popular names in the sport.

Chris Duncan’s Incredible Comeback

Everything UFC 280: Oliveira vs Makhachev

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Headlining the fight card is the highly anticipated matchup for the vacant UFC lightweight title between Charles Oliveira and Islam Makhachev, who come into the contest on a combined 21-fight unbeaten run. In the co-main event, bantamweight champion Aljamain Sterling defends his title against the former two-time bantamweight champion TJ Dillashaw.

The UFC 280 prelims kick off at 10am ET / 7am PT in the United States on ESPN+ and UFC Fight Pass. The main card follows at 2pm ET / 11 am PT. If you want to learn more about the event and its featured athletes, you’re in the right place. Scroll down below to access exclusive fight content, free-fights, athlete features and more to get you prepared for UFC 280: Oliveira vs Makhachev:

The 10: Abu Dhabi Moments

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This isn’t an invitation to re-litigate the official scorecards or argue about the official decision of this fight — it was close, it was highly competitive, and it was more than two years ago; it’s time to move on.

What this is, however, is a celebration of an outstanding fight between the two very best fighters in the featherweight division, meeting for the second time in nine months with championship gold once again hanging in the balance.

Volkanovski won the belt at UFC 245, collecting a split decision win over Holloway by executing a technical, tactical game plan that featured plenty of low kicks, sound boxing, and an impressive ability to not only withstand the Hawaiian’s pressure approach, but upset his rhythm on the feet, as well.

MORE UFC 280: View The Fight Card | Order PPV

The second fight was even closer, with Holloway jumping out to an early 2-0 lead on all three scorecards before the Australian started to rally. All three judges saw the third and fourth for Volkanovski, who came away on the happy side of the 2-1 split in the fifth and final round, and therefore the fight, to retain his title.

This is a wonderful example of a fighter making the right adjustments mid-fight, and the win that put Volkanovski in a position to rise to where he stands currently as arguably the top pound-for-pound and most complete fighter in the sport today.

Khamzat Chimaev vs John Phillips (UFC Fight Night: Kattar vs Ige)

(Watch On UFC FIGHT PASS)

The Scorecard | UFC Fight Night: Dern vs Yan

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After a long road to a UFC main event, Yan Xiaonan delivered in a big way by defeating fellow strawweight contender Mackenzie Dern last Saturday. It was an introduction of sorts to the China native, who got to display her skills in a five-round headliner, and she held off one of the sport’s top grapplers in the process.

Order UFC 280: Oliveira vs Makhachev

Nearly five years after her debut, Yan has arrived, and wouldn’t that be something if the stars aligned and Zhang Weili regains her 115-pound title when she faces Carla Esparza in November, setting up an All-China showdown for the crown? That wouldn’t just be a big fight for the combatants, but for the sport and for China.

2 – Brendan Allen

UFC Fight Night: Dern vs Yan Results

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UFC returns to UFC APEX with an exciting strawweight contenders’ bout that will see No. 5 ranked Mackenzie Dern clash with No. 6 Xiaonan Yan. An action-packed co-main event will see a showdown between exciting welterweights Randy Brown and Francisco Trinaldo.

UFC FIGHT NIGHT: DERN vs. YAN will take place Saturday, October 1 at UFC APEX in Las Vegas. The entire card will be available exclusively on ESPN+ (English and Spanish), with the main card starting at 7 pm ET / 4 pm PT and the prelims at 4 pm ET / 1 pm PT.

Main event scheduled for five rounds. All other bouts scheduled for three rounds. | Official Scorecards

UFC Fight Night: Dern vs Yan Results

UFC Fight Night: Dern vs Yan Prelims 

Guido Cannetti vs Randy Costa

  • An exciting bantamweight bout sees Guido Cannetti (9-7, fighting out of San Antonio de Padua, Buenos Aires, Argentina) face off against Randy Costa (6-3, fighting out of Taunton, Mass.)

Watch on ESPN+Official Scorecards

Julija Stoliarenko vs Chelsea Chandler 

  • Julija Stoliarenko (10-7-1, fighting out of Kaunas, Lithuania) and Octagon newcomer Chelsea Chandler (4-1, fighting out of Stockton, Calif.) are set to compete in a 140-pound catchweight bout

Watch on ESPN+Official Scorecards

Krzysztof Jotko vs Brendan Allen 

  • Middleweights battle, as Krzysztof Jotko (24-5, fighting out of Orneta, Poland) meets Brendan Allen (19-5, fighting out of Milwaukee, Wisc.)

Watch on ESPN+Official Scorecards

Joaquim Silva vs Jesse Ronson 

  • Lightweights face off as Joaquim Silva (11-4, fighting out of Curitiba, Brazil) meets Jesse Ronson (21-11, London, Ontario, Canada)

Watch on ESPN+Official Scorecards

Ilir Latifi vs Aleksei Oleinik 

  • Heavyweights collide as Ilir Latifi (16-8-1, fighting out of Malmo, Sweden) meets grappling specialist Aleksei Oleinik (60-16-1, fighting out of Moscow, Russia)

Watch on ESPN+Official Scorecards

John Castaneda vs Daniel Santos 

  • John Castaneda (19-5, fighting out of Minneapolis, Minn.) battles Daniel Santos (10-2, fighting out of Uberlandia, Brazil) in a 140-pound catchweight bout 

Watch on ESPN+Official Scorecards

UFC Fight Night: Dern vs Yan Main Card 

Mike Davis vs Viacheslav Borshchev 

  • An exciting lightweight matchup pits Mike Davis (9-2, fighting out of Coconut Creek, Fla.) against Dana White’s Contender Series signee Viacheslav Borshchev (6-2, fighting out of Sacramento, Calif.)

Watch on ESPN+Official Scorecards

Sodiq Yusuff vs Don Shainis 

  • A thrilling featherweight bout will see Sodiq Yusuff (12-2, fighting out of Bladensburg, Md.) face newcomer Don Shainis (12-3, fighting out of Easton, Mass.)

Watch on ESPN+Official Scorecards

Raoni Barcelos vs Trevin Jones 

  • Raoni Barcelos (16-3, fighting out of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) clashes with Trevin Jones (13-8, fighting out of Maite, Guam) at bantamweight

Watch on ESPN+Official Scorecards

Maxim Grishin vs Philipe Lins

  • Maxim Grishin (32-9-2, fighting out of Grozny, Chechen Republic, Russia) squares off with Philipe Lins (15-5, fighting out of Warsaw, Poland) at light heavyweight

Watch on ESPN+Official Scorecards

Co-Main Event: Randy Brown vs Francisco Trinaldo 

  • Randy Brown (15-4, fighting out of Queens, N.Y.) looks to continue his win-streak when he meets Francisco Trinaldo (28-8, fighting out of Brasilia, Distrito Federal, Brazil) at welterweight

Watch on ESPN+Official Scorecards

Main Event: Mackenzie Dern vs Xiaonan Yan 

  • Fan favorite Mackenzie Dern (12-2, fighting out of Huntington Beach, Calif.) returns to the Octagon to continue her impressive climb up the 115-pound rankings. The Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt has secured impressive wins against Tecia Torres, Nina Nunes, and Randa Markos. Dern will now set out to stop Yan and stake her claim for a title shot.
  • Xiaonan Yan (13-3, fighting out of Beijing, China) looks to steal the show by adding another notable name to her resume. Proven to be a dangerous striker, she has secured victories over Cláudia Gadelha, Karolina Kowalkiewicz and Angela Hill. Yan now looks to become the first fighter to finish Dern with a statement victory.

Watch on ESPN+Official Scorecards

Don’t Miss A Moment Of UFC Fight Night: Dern vs Yan, Live From The UFC APEX In Las Vegas, Nevada. Prelims Begin at 4pm ET/1pm PT, While The Main Card Kicks Off At 7pm ET/4pm PT.

Official Scorecards | UFC Fight Night: Dern vs Yan

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UFC returns to UFC APEX with an exciting strawweight contenders’ bout that will see No. 5 ranked Mackenzie Dern clash with No. 6 Yan Xiaonan. An action-packed co-main event will see a showdown between exciting welterweights Randy Brown and Francisco Trinaldo.

UFC FIGHT NIGHT: DERN vs. YAN will take place Saturday, October 1 at UFC APEX in Las Vegas. The entire card will be available exclusively on ESPN+ (English and Spanish), with the main card starting at 7 pm ET / 4 pm PT and the prelims at 4 pm ET / 1 pm PT.

Main event scheduled for five rounds. All other bouts scheduled for three rounds. Results, Highlights & More

UFC Fight Night: Dern vs Yan Scorecards

Guido Cannetti vs Randy Costa 

John Castaneda Lets His Work Speak For Itself

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“It’s definitely been hurtful to the career for sure, but reflecting back on the past is something that we can’t really avoid,” Castaneda said. “It stunted my growth in the sport but, at the end of the day, I think I was doing it to myself. A big part of the reason why I wasn’t able to compete more than once a year was because of injuries and basically personal life stuff. I went through a divorce for a while there, unhealthy relationships, but at this point in time in my career, I’m focused. I’m training smarter, not harder, and I think that’s keeping me healthy year-round. I’m getting a little bit older, and I’d say I’m in my prime right now.”

That’s a nice thing to say at an age when Castaneda is, at 30, young enough to compete on a level playing field with the rising stars of the sport like the 27-year-old Santos, yet old enough to have world-class experience against the elite of his division and to know the lay of the land in the big show.

MORE UFC FIGHT NIGHT: Fighters On The Rise | Fight by Fight Preview | Dern’s Interview With Megan Olivi | Main Event Preview

“When I was in my early and mid-20s, I was like, ‘Damn, I feel like I’m a good fighter, but I can’t wait until I’m in my prime,’” he said. “And not only physically, but mentally I’m in a different spot than I was in my mid-20s, and I feel like mentally, I can conquer the world. I’ve overcome a lot through my life, not only with MMA, but a lot of personal stuff, and it’s only made me more mentally tough. This game is half-mental, if not more. It’s mental warfare. People lose a fight before they even step foot in that cage, and so I think that I made a lot of improvements physically and to my MMA game, but also mentally, so I think that combination makes me dangerous.”

If Castaneda is more dangerous than he has been, that spells trouble for the rest of a stacked bantamweight division, because after a competitive, short-notice decision loss to Nathaniel Wood in 2020, he’s finished his next two fights, knocking out former WEC champion Eddie Wineland in the first round and submitting up and comer Miles Johns in the third frame. Now he’ll get Brazil’s Santos, who is making his second UFC start after a loss to Julio Arce in April.

Krzysztof Jotko: “I’m The Real Deal”

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“I don’t know what my problem was [before] but I suffered a little bit. [But] every fight I feel better, I feel better in my body, and I promise you this camp was one of the best in my career. I didn’t get injured, my stomach was good, everything was good, and I’m ready to smash this guy.”

“This guy” refers to his UFC Fight Night: Dern vs Yan opponent, Brendan Allen. Like Meeschaert, Allen is a very dangerous opponent during grappling exchanges, and Jotko sees very similar tendencies between the two middleweights.

MORE UFC FIGHT NIGHT: Fighters On The Rise | Fight by Fight Preview | Dern’s Interview With Megan Olivi | Main Event Preview The Best Of Dern Top 10 Fights Of October

The best camp of his career happened down in Coconut Creek, Florida, at American Top Team, a world-renowned gym known for hosting some of the world’s most talented mixed martial artists, including UFC stars Dustin Poirier and Jorge Masvidal. Having dozens of the world’s best fighters train and spar with you day in and day out can seem daunting, but it’s helped Jotko grow into what he feels is an elite fighter.

“I’m at the best gym in the world, American Top Team,” Jotko said. “We have the best sparring partners there, so I had a very hard training camp. I sparred with Bellator [middleweight] champion Johnny Eblen. They’re such athletes, such monsters, so I’m very confident and ready for this guy.”

UFC Announces Road To UFC Semifinals

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Episode 5: Sunday, October 23 @ 3 p.m. GST (Gulf Standard Time)

  • Featherweight: Yi Zha vs Koyomi Matsushima
  • Flyweight: Qui Lun vs Seung Guk Choi
  • Lightweight: Won Bin Ki vs Jeka Saragih
  • Bantamweight: Toshiomi Kazama vs Min Woo Kim
  • Non-tournament: TBD

Episode 6: Sunday, October 23 @ 5 p.m. GST (Gulf Standard Time)

  • Featherweight: Jung Young Lee vs Lu Kai
  • Bantamweight: Rinya Nakamura vs Shohei Nose
  • Flyweight: Topnoi Kiwram vs Hyun Sung Park
  • Lightweight: Anshul Jubli vs Kyung Pyo Kim
  • Non-tournament: TBD

Road To UFC will air live in Asia primetime (GMT +8) so audiences across the continent can get to know the athletes via in-event features and competitions on the following UFC broadcast partners:

International: UFC Fight Pass

China: MIGU

Hong Kong: NOW SPORTS

India: SONY TEN 2

Indonesia: MOLA

Japan: UFC FightPass

Malaysia: ASTRO SUPERSPORT 5, UNIFI TV, MOLA

Mongolia: SPS

Myanmar: CANAL+

Philippines: TAP GO, PREMIER SPORTS

Singapore: HUB SPORTS, MIO SPORTS, MOLA

South Korea: TVN Sports

Thailand: TRUE SPORTS HD3

Vietnam: K+ SPORTS

UFC returns to Etihad Arena in Abu Dhabi on Saturday, October 22, with UFC 280: Oliveira vs Makhachev, headlined by a clash for the vacant lightweight championship between Charles Oliveira and Islam Makhachev. Plus, the bantamweight division takes center stage, as Aljamain Sterling defends his crown against TJ Dillashaw, and “Sugar” Sean O’Malley steps up for a huge showdown against Petr Yan.

UFC 280: Oliveira vs Makhachev will be the latest event held in the UAE capital as part of a landmark partnership forged in 2019 between UFC and the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi).

UFC 280 FREE FIGHTS: Oliveira vs Gaethje | Makhachev vs Hooker | Dillashaw vs Sandhagen

The prelims for UFC 280: Oliveira vs Makhachev will begin at 6 p.m. GST, followed by the main card at 10 p.m. GST. Official UFC 280 VIP packages are available through On Location, featuring premium seating, a reserved seat at the ceremonial weigh-ins, all-inclusive in-venue hospitality with UFC Fighter appearances and more. Please visit https://ufcvip.com/d/ufc-280-tickets for more information.

Media members can apply for credentials to UFC 280: Oliveira vs Makhachev and all UFC events by creating an account and registering at UFC Access.

Follow us on Facebook (UFC Asia), Twitter and Instagram (@ufc), and use the official hashtags: #UFC280 and #RoadToUFC.

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