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BROOKLYN, N.Y. – Cory Sandhagen said his first-round armbar win over Mario Bautista went pretty much the way he planned it.
And because of that, he thinks it’s about time he gets a little more uncomfortable in his UFC career. Sandhagen (10-1 MMA, 3-0 UFC) took out Bautista (6-1 MMA, 0-1 UFC) with about 90 seconds left in the first round at UFC on ESPN+ 1 this past Saturday.
Now Sandhagen wants a step up, which might mean a fight with bantamweight standout John Lineker (31-8 MMA, 12-3 UFC), whom he was supposed to fight on the card before Lineker pulled out nine days before the fight.
“Right now, I’m in no rush to call anyone out,” Sandhagen said after the fight. “But I definitely want to fight up. I’m comfortable in this spot where I am, so I need to step out of my comfort zone a little bit. If it’s Lineker, it’s Lineker – or someone in the top 15 or top 10.”
UFC on ESPN+ 1 took place Saturday at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y. The main card streamed on ESPN+ following prelims on ESPN and ESPN+.
His win will be an MMA trivia question some day since his bout was the first to be broadcast on ESPN in the UFC’s new deal with the longtime cable sports network.
“It’s super cool. ESPN – we grew up watching that our whole lives in the U.S., so that was cool,” he said. “I didn’t think about it too much. I have a lot of family from Queens, and I had all of them come, so I was a little bit more excited that my family from New York got to come watch me fight. But being on ESPN is pretty cool.”
Sandhagen won for the fifth straight time – all stoppages. But more importantly, the most recent three of those have been in the UFC with TKO wins over Austin Arnett and Iuri Alcantara ahead of his submission of Bautista.
The Lineker fight would have been the step up – in a big way – that Sandhagen was looking for, and instead he had to fight a short-notice opponent, albeit one who was unbeaten coming in. But still, the win was important for him simply because of three letters.
“I know where I am in the sport – I’m working my way up,” he said. “I’m developing my name. I’m getting UFC experience, which is different from professional experience. But I’m 26. I want someone top 15, for sure. Maybe even top 10. … I really believe on any night, I can beat any fighter. Whoever the UFC wants to give me is cool.”
For more from Sandhagen, check out the video above.
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