Cory Sandhagen dominated Rob Font from start to finish Saturday in their bout at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee, in the main event of UFC Nashville, though it didn’t turn out the way anyone expected.
The bout between a pair of the UFC’s most explosive kickboxers, which was contested at a catchweight of 140 pounds, turned into a wrestling match that Sandhagen dominated. He hit on all seven of his takedowns, racked up the control time and won 50-45 on all three judges’ scorecards.
It was a comprehensive and one-sided performance for the fourth-ranked bantamweight, who reiterated after the bout that he wants to face the winner of the title fight at UFC 292 in Boston on Aug. 19, between champion Aljamain Sterling and top contender Sean O’Malley.
The crowd didn’t appreciate the fight and booed lustily throughout. In the final round, when Sandhagen scored his last takedown, the boos increased as the crowd was basically saying, “Oh no! Here were go again.”
That had to be what Font was thinking because he had no answer for the wrestling. He was scheduled to fight Song Yadong at UFC 292, but when Yadong pulled out with an injury, Font accepted the bout against Sandhagen with less than three weeks’ notice. Sandhagen needed a new opponent in the main event because Umar Nurmagomedov was injured and pulled out.
So Sandhagen-Font was made at a 140-pound catchweight and it seemed as if it would be a fun ending to a solid card.
But while no one could deny how well Sandhagen fought, it wasn’t the type of match that enthralled either the fans or UFC president Dana White, who appeared to leave his ringside seat during the bout.
Sandhagen apologized to the crowd immediately after the bout when he was interviewed by UFC analyst Michael Bisping.
“Hey Nashville, I wanted to deliver a more exciting fight, but I’ve been dealing with a lot of elbow problems recently and I think I tore my [right] triceps in the first round,” said Sandhagen, who called the fight “technical as hell.”
Sandhagen not only had an astounding 19:38 of control time in the 25-minute bout, he limited Font, one of the UFC’s better kickboxers, to only nine significant strikes landed.
It showed the development of Sandhagen’s game and the wrestling skill could come in handy if he gets a rematch with Sterling for the title. Sterling submitted Sandhagen in Las Vegas in 2020.
Sandhagen connected on 34 of 84 of his significant strikes and had no problem in dominating a top 10 opponent. Even though the crowd didn’t like the fight, it’s hard to argue with the way Sandhagen dominated it.