Cory Sandhagen not intimidated by the ‘superhuman’ Dagestani grappling of Umar Nurmagomedov


Cory Sandhagen isn’t concerned with the fabled Dagestani grappling skills of his next Octagon opponent.

‘The Sandman’ will look to continue his march toward the top of the bantamweight top ten as he meets undefeated submission machine Umar Nurmagomedov on August 5. Coming off impressive back-to-back wins against Song Yadong and Marlon ‘Chito’ Vera, Cory Sandhagen will look to stop the hype train Nurmagomedov has been riding since making his promotional debut in 2021.

Of course, that will be much easier said than done as Nurmagomedov makes his fifth walk to the Octagon with a perfect 16-0 record, including seven wins by way of submission. As is the case with every man that shares his famous last name, Umar Nurmagomedov plans to put his world-class grappling skills on display en route to a debut in the division’s top five. However, Nurmagomedov’s name and ground game won’t intimidate ‘The Sandman’ who is more than confident in his own skills on the mat.

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“Everyone still thinks I suck at wrestling, even though, when you think about it, I can’t really think of a time outside of the (Aljamain) Sterling fight where I was on my back for longer than maybe five or 10 seconds,” Sandhagen told ESPN’s Brett Okamoto. “The time where I think I was on my back for the longest was against (TJ) Dillashaw, and I ripped his knee in half. So everyone still thinks my grappling isn’t that good.

“The Dagestanis kind of have this aura of being these superhuman people still, and that’s like, not true,” Sandhagen continued. “They’re just doing different things that people haven’t picked up on yet. I have a really good and smart team of coaches to help me navigate that, and then I also have a decent amount of training partners from that type of world that can also help me get really good at it too” (h/t MMA News).

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Cory Sandhagen is 4-2 in his last six outings, coming up short against former bantamweight world champions Petr Yan and T.J. Dillashaw. With a win over Umar Nurmagomedov, ‘The Sandman’ could stake his claim for a 135-pound title opportunity once reigning champion Aljamain Sterling settles some business with No. 2 ranked contender Sean O’Malley at UFC 292 in August.

Currently sitting in the No. 11 spot on the rankings, a win over Cory Sandhagen would likely thrust Nurmagomedov into the top five and potentially place him in pole position for his first UFC title shot.