MMAOB staff writer Adam Martin takes a deeper look at the main event of UFC on ESPN+ 37, a five-round bantamweight bout between Cory Sandhagen and Marlon Moraes. The event takes place on Saturday, October 10 at Fight Island on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.
Cory Sandhagen (-130)
Sandhagen (12-2) is the No. 4 ranked bantamweight in the UFC. The 28-year-old American made his UFC debut in 2018 and quickly racked up five straight wins over Raphael Assuncao, John Lineker, Mario Bautista, Iuri Alcantara, and Austin Arnett, before being submitted by top contender Aljamain Sterling in his last fight. At 5’11” and blessed with a 70″ reach, Sandhagen has all the physical tools to be a serious contender in this division. He is a well-rounded fighter with solid striking fundamentals, a dangerous submission game, and really good cardio. Although losing to Sterling in the way he did has soured some people on Sandhagen, I believe he still has what it takes to make a run for the belt in this division. With a win over Moraes, Sandhagen would be right there.
Marlon Moraes (+110)
Moraes (23-6-1) is the No. 1 ranked bantamweight in the UFC. The 32-year-old Brazilian made his UFC debut in 2017 after a successful run as the WSOF bantamweight champion but in his Octagon debut, he dropped a split decision to Raphael Assuncao to snap a 13-fight winning skid. While some thought Moraes maybe wasn’t a legitimate contender after the Assuncao fight, Moraes quickly re-emerged as a serious threat for the belt with four straight wins over John Dodson, Aljamain Sterling, Jimmie Rivera, and then Assuncao to earn a title shot against Henry Cejudo. After losing via TKO to Cejudo, Moraes bounced back with a split decision win over Jose Aldo. Moraes is an ultra-dangerous fighter with vicious striking and slick submissions. He also has tons of experience. The one downfall to Moraes is his cardio, which cost him the fight with Cejudo. If he cleans that part of his game up, there is no reason to think that he can’t make another serious run for the 135lbs belt.
Fight Breakdown: This is an awesome fight and the winner will absolutely enter the conversation of the next title challenger for UFC bantamweight champion Petr Yan. Both Sandhagen and Moraes are highly-skilled fighters on the feet and on the mat, which should make this a very interesting fight to play out. Moraes is extremely dangerous in the first few rounds, while Sandhagen is someone who gets stronger the longer the fight goes. If this fight ends early, I see it being Moraes getting a knockout or a submission in the first or second round. But if the fight goes past the first two rounds, I think Sandhagen has a big edge. Although Sandhagen is coming off of a miserable performance against Sterling, I’m not ready to write him off just yet. In general, Sandhagen is very durable and I believe Moraes will have a hard time putting him away. The longer the fight goes, the more I believe it favors Sandhagen, who I believe will have the superior cardio and output in the later rounds. I think this fight is going to go the distance and I see Sandhagen winning a decision on the cards.
Prediction: Cory Sandhagen wins via decision