MMA in Las Vegas, baby. It’s a beautiful thing. The co-main event at UFC 250 between Aljamain Sterling and Cory Sandhagen should be, too. With a chance to fight their way to a title bout in the bantamweight division due to the shocking retirement of Henry Cejudo, these two should be extra motivated.
UFC 250: Aljamain Sterling vs. Cory Sandhagen
Unlike the women’s main card, this promises to be a hotly contested match between two bantamweight fighters set for stardom in the Octagon. Boasting a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Sterling last defeated Pedro Munhoz in UFC 238 almost a calendar year ago.
On the other hand, Sandhagen is seen as the rising star within the bantamweight ranks. This is evidenced by the extremely narrow odds between the two fighters.
Per Bovada, here are the latest odds for Aljamain Sterling vs. Cory Sandhagen:
- Aljamain Sterling: -120
- Cory Sandhagen: -110
Sandhagen, 28, has not dropped a fight since he was a member of Legacy Fighting Alliance back in 2017. He’s coming off the biggest match of his career, a unanimous decision over Raphael Assunção during UFC 241 back in August of last year.
Aljamain Sterling: Funk Master looks to flex
Having already earned titles in the Cage Fury Fighting Championships and Ring of Combat, Sterling takes center stage in the match of his career. He’s going to be looking to bring that funk to Sandhagen at nearly every turn. The decision of Henry Cejudo to announce his retirement following UFC 249 last month adds another layer to this for Sterling. He could take over as the face of the bantamweight division moving forward.
Ranked No. 2 in the division, there’s a great chance that Sterling will ultimately go up against Petr Yan for the title should he come out on top here.
“It’s Petr Yan and somebody,” UFC president Dana White said before announcing this bout, via Newsday. “We’ll get that figured out, too. We’ll make a title fight next week for the vacant title and probably do that fight as soon as possible.”
Sterling, 30, heads into Saturday night with an 18-3 professional record. Though, only half of his wins have come via submission or knockout. He’s at a distinct disadvantage when it comes to knockout rate compared to Sandhagen and comes in at four inches shorter. Those are two main things to watch Saturday night in Vegas.
Cory Sandhagen: Continuing with recent roll
Ranked No. 4 in the bantamweight division, Sandhagen is better known than his adversary. For good reason. The Colorado native has won all five of his UFC fights heading into Saturday night, including knockouts of Iuri Alcântara and Austin Arnett. This will be his first five-round fight on a main card. He’s never gone more than three rounds in any of his 13 professional fights (12-1 record).
With an average fight time less than half of that of Sterling, it’s going to be important for Sandhagen to get the early edge and potentially end this fight before the first few rounds are over. Durability might not be his strength here, but bantamweight contender has either knocked out or submitted his opponent in 63% of his professional fights. He also boasts the advantage in height, strikes landed per minute and leg reach.
Aljamain Sterling vs. Cory Sandhagen: Notable quotes ahead of UFC 250
As with everything that’s going on in the United States today, a lot of the talk heading into this match has been protests taking place around the country after the murder of George Floyd last week. Sterling made sure to address that ahead of UFC 250.
“I wouldn’t want that to happen to my kids,” Sterling told UFC.com. “I would hate to see that happen to one of my friends or their family members or anyone, even if I don’t know you. We’re all people. You don’t treat people like that.”
He also took to social media to decry violent “protests” and the destruction of property in his native New York.
We have not heard much from Sandhagen in the lead up to the fight. That promises to change the closer we get to Saturday night and during weigh-ins later this week in Las Vegas.
UFC 250: Aljamain Sterling vs. Cory Sandhagen prediction
As noted above, this match promises to be among the most hotly-contested of UFC 250. Each fighter plays to his strength in a big way. Sterling has proven that he can last while absorbing punishment. After all, 47% of his wins have come via decision and his average fight time is north of 12:30.
On the other hand, Sandhagen lands almost nine significant strikes per minute and absorbs just 2.73. He’s going to come out in a furious manner in hopes of ending this one early.
Prediction: Aljamain Sterling wins in five-round unanimous decision.