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Cory Sandhagen: Umar Nurmagomedov Odds Tied to Islam Makhachev’s Success


Cory Sandhagen (17-4) believes bookmakers did not decide the odds of his upcoming clash against Umar Nurmagomedov (17-0) based on the caliber of the two fighters.

Sandhagen will confront Nurmagomedov in the main event at UFC Abu Dhabi on Aug. 3 in what has been billed as a No. 1 bantamweight contender matchup. Sandhagen is a +215 underdog going into the fight against Nurmagomedov, who is a -265 favorite.

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While Sandhagen doesn’t like the disparity in the odds, he isn’t much bothered by it. “Sandman” believes much of Nurmagomedov’s favorite status has to do with the success of the latter’s teammate, Islam Makhachev, who recently retained his lightweight title with a Round 5 submission over Dustin Poirier at UFC 302.

Sandhagen believes the stellar success of the Dagestani contingent influenced the odds for his upcoming clash against Nurmagomedov. While Sandhagen says the hype behind the Dagestani brigade is justified, he is against building an invincible image of any particular fighter.

“Yeah, I did see that. Yeah, that’s OK. Islam’s doing well, that definitely has a lot to do with it,” Sandhagen told Sportskeeda. “Just like them being intertwined. It’s still like the big Dagestani narrative is still going on and they are incredible fighters too. There’s like definitely a lot of truth to the narrative but making them sound unbeatable is definitely not a true part of the narrative… Yeah, I don’t like that too much. Usually I think I’m the favorite but I’m OK with being a dog every once in a while.”

While Sandhagen has shown grappling development over time, the elite striker’s fight against Nurmagomedov is expected to be a textbook striker vs. wrestler matchup. While it is ideal to train with partners with a similar style to that of your upcoming opponent, Sandhagen hasn’t had much success finding Dagestani training partners, owing to the camaraderie they share with each other. However, Sandhagen has trained with grapplers from Tajikistan and Azerbaijan, who have been given him an inkling of the Dagestani style.

“It’s hard cause they’re all homies, they’re all buds. So when I reach out to friends like, ‘Hey, can that guy come out and train, is he a good training partner? That’s like, ‘Yeah, but they’re friends with Umar or they’re friends with so and so who knows Umar and so they’re kind of buds,” Sandhagen said. “So it’s really hard to get those types of looks but I will probably have Muhammad Naimov hopefully come out… And he is Tajikistan, which is different than Dagestan so… We had some guys from Tajikistan pop in, Azerbaijan hop in, so I get the look. It’s a different style but it’s not fundamentally super different. They just have different attacks and things that they do a little bit different that they do than the American style of wrestling.
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