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Cory Sandhagen may have ended the fight stuck in John Lineker’s guillotine choke with blood streaming out of his nose, but the work he’d done up to that point paid off once he’d survived the late scare.
After a close fight that played out mostly on the feet Saturda night, Sandhagen (11-1 MMA, 4-0 UFC) took the split-decision victory over the always dangerous Lineker (31-9 MMA, 12-4 UFC) with scores of 29-28, 28-29, and 29-28.
The bantamweight bout was part of the UFC on ESPN+ 8 main card at BB&T Center in Sunrise, Fla., and streamed on ESPN+.
Sandhagen controlled most of the early going by dictating the range and the pace of the striking exchanges, using his height and reach to keep Lineker at bay. His feints stifled much of Lineker’s usual offense, and his array of attacks seemed to catch Lineker by surprise at times.
But as the fight wore on, Lineker became more aggressive, diving in to close the distance and then banging to the body and the head of Sandhangen with hard hooks. After the two men traded takedowns late in the second, the fight seemed close headed into the third.
In that final frame, Sandhagen focused his early efforts on keeping Lineker away from him, using low kicks and jabs to hold the shorter man on the outside. But as the seconds ticked down, Lineker’s desperation grew. With it came more prolonged bursts of offense, which put Sandhagen in some trouble late.
After stinging Sandhagen with punches, Lineker locked up a guillotine choke off a takedown attempt that was mostly a self-preservation effort by Sandhagen. And while the blood gushed forth as he squeezed, Lineker couldn’t finish the choke before time ran out and two of the three judges gave the fight to Sandhagen.
With the victory, Sandhagen remains unbeaten since coming to the UFC. Lineker’s loss snaps a two-fight winning streak.
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