Cory Sandhagen will be fighting for the interim bantamweight title at UFC 267, but he says he is viewing this as the real title.
Sandhagen stepped up to replace Aljamain Sterling and will face Yan for the interim title. Yet, due to the fact Sterling won the belt due to a DQ, Sandhagen says he will consider himself the legit champ if he wins on Saturday in Abu Dhabi.
“I think Aljamain had to retreat, and T.J.’s village is still on fire from when I set it on it on fire,” Sandhagen told reporters at UFC 267 media day. “So if we’re talking like ancient war-type stuff, which is how I like to view this game, I’m the guy that can take the land. Those other two guys can’t right now. I can take the land, so I’ll see myself as champ. I know most of the public sees Yan as champ anyways. I know I’ll definitely have some making up to do. Definitely still need to make up my two losses against Aljamain and T.J. also, but I’ll go home with a smile on my face calling myself the champ.”
In order for Sandhagen to even think he is the real champ, he’ll need to beat Yan which is easier said than done. The Russian is very well-rounded but Sandhagen is confident he has the skills to be able to win the fight.
“If there is anywhere that’s definitely going to be a huge advantage for me in this fight, it’s definitely going to be a grappling area,” Sandhagen said. “Not having to worry about that as much maybe makes it easier? But nah, I get my ass kicked almost every day in camp, so I wouldn’t call any of them easy.”
Cory Sandhagen enters the fight coming off a controversial split decision to TJ Dillashaw last time out. Prior to that, he scored back-to-back highlight-reel KO wins over Frankie Edgar and Marlon Moraes.