Cory Sandhagen eyes bantamweight title challenge after UFC win

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Corey Sandhagen lands a punch on Marlon Moraes on his way to victory at Yas Forum in Abu Dhabi (Getty/UFC)
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Edson Barboza (left) during his win over Makwan Amirkhani (Getty/UFC)
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Polish Heavyweight Marcin Tybura (left) beat the American Ben Rothwell via a unanimous decision (Getty/UFC)
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Tom Aspinall (right) managed to stop Alan “The Black Sanourai” Baudot in their Heavyweight bout (Getty/UFC)
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Updated 11 October 2020

Cory Sandhagen eyes bantamweight title challenge after UFC win

  • Ali Alqaisi falls short in bid to give Jordan first ever win

ABU DHABI: Cory Sandhagen is a step closer to a shot at the UFC Bantamweight title after beating the number-one ranked challenger, Brazilian Marlon Moraes, on a night that also saw popular Jordanian fighter Ali Alqaisi disappointingly lose to Tom Kelley and Joaquin Buckley produce the moment of the event at Yas Forum in Abu Dhabi.

With a TKO win after 1.03 of round 2 of the main event, Sandhagen was the big winner of Fight Night 2, the third of the five-event Fight Island 2 series, which kicked off with UFC 253 on Sept. 27 and which will conclude with UFC 254 on Oct. 24.

“Marlon is a really dangerous guy, so it was ‘keep myself safe with the distance’, other than that, it was ‘just be better than him’,” the 28-year-old American said. “I think I hurt him with a couple of body shots, I kicked him in the head pretty good and I saw swelling right off the bat, which usually means an orbital break, so I was going to attack that side.”

The fourth-ranked Sandhagen, now with a record of 13-2-0, quickly turned his attention to removing the only two fighters — TJ Dillashaw and Frankie Edgar — still ahead of him in the queue to take on the winner of a potential title bout between current champion Petr Yan and Alijamain Sterling.

In the co-main event of the night Edson Barboza defeated Makwan Amirkhani of Finland thanks to a unanimous decision in their featherweight bout.

“I’m very happy, that’s my second win in the featherweight division,” the Brazilian kickboxer said. “I’m very happy to get my W, I think I fought well, not a lot of risk in the fight, feel great.”

The 34-year-old Barboza now has a record of 21-9-0 stretching back to 2009.

Before the two headlining fights, another unanimous decision had given the 34-year-old Polish heavyweight Marcin Tybura a win over the American Ben Rothwell.

“It went as planned,” the winner said. “I knew he would come forward with big shots, a lot of big shots, and he did, but lots of those punches just landed on my hands, so I wasn’t really damaged.”

Tybura also expressed his delight at once again fighting in the UAE capital, following his win over Maxim Grishin at UFC 251 in July. 

“This is my second time here, so I love it,” he said. “Obviously it would be much nicer if we were able to walk around Abu Dhabi or even visit Dubai or something, but still it’s a great place, great weather, great hotel, accommodation, everything is great, I love it.”

“I would love to have somebody from the top 10 now,” Tybura added. “I’m dreaming of a rematch with Derrick Lewis. I think I’ve developed and I would love it if he gave me a rematch.”

In a middleweight fight, South African Dricus Du Plessis overcame Markus Perez of Brazil thanks to unanimous decision, and can now claim impressive career numbers of 15-2-0.

“I came in here and finished a guy that’s never been finished, best night of my life.”

Meanwhile Spaniard Ilia Topuria defeated Yousef Zalal of Morocco via a unanimous decision in their featherweight clash, and declared that even without the presence of fans, it had been an “amazing, amazing experience.”

“I feel very good, it’s a lot of emotions right now,” said Topuria.

In the first fight of the main card, Englishman Tom Aspinall managed to stop Alan “the Black Sanourai” Baudot after only 1.35 of round 1 in their heavyweight bout.

“I felt the fight was good, I felt that my performance was OK, could have been better,” said Aspinall. “I was stepping in a little bit too close, but I’m still learning, so I’m going to make mistakes in there.”

Meanwhile, one of the highlights of the night, if not all of Fight Island 2, was in the Prelims when Joaquin Buckley knocked out fellow American Impa Kasanganay with a stunning spinning kick in round 2 of their middleweight fight.

“It was just open,” Buckley said. “I saw that he still had my legs, I was still able to balance with him grabbing my foot, so I just spun and kicked and it got the result we needed.”

Buckley revealed that his spectacular victory had prompted UFC President Dana White to promise him a bountiful future.

“The boss just told me that he wants to give me all of the bonuses,” he said

In the other Prelims, middleweight Tom Breese beat KB Bhullar via a round 1 TKO; Chris Daukaus also stopped Rodrigo Nascimento Ferreira in the first round of their heavyweight bout; Ali Alqaisi lost to Tony Kelley in three rounds; featherweight Giga Chikadze overcame Omar Antonio Morales via a unanimous decision; Tracey Cortez defeated Stephanie Egger in their women’s bantamweight fight; and Tagir Ulanbekov had kicked off the night with a unanimous decision win over Bruno Silva in their flyweight bout.

Fight Island 2 now moves on to next weekend’s last Fight Night, before ending with UFC 254 on October 24, in which champion Khabib Nurmagomedov will take on Justin Gaethje in a lightweight title fight.


Spurs stunned by Antwerp, Milan cruise to victory

Updated 14 min 37 sec ago

Spurs stunned by Antwerp, Milan cruise to victory

  • The surprise win takes Antwerp to the top of the early Group J table after their opening 2-1 victory at Ludogorets

PARIS: Tottenham Hotspur slumped to a shock 1-0 Europa League defeat at Royal Antwerp on Thursday, while Serie A leaders AC Milan eased to victory over Sparta Prague.

Jose Mourinho’s Spurs failed to create a single chance of note in a lifeless display, with Gareth Bale, who rejoined the club on loan from Real Madrid in the close-season, lasting less than an hour before being substituted.

The surprise win takes Antwerp to the top of the early Group J table after their opening 2-1 victory at Ludogorets last week.

The Belgian outfit are playing in the main stage of a European competition for the first time since a UEFA Cup first-round loss to Newcastle United in 1994.

The hosts took the lead just before the half-hour mark, with Dieumerci Mbokani robbing makeshift Spurs center-back Ben Davies before feeding Israeli forward Lior Refaelov to drill a fierce shot into the corner.

Antwerp wasted a golden chance to double the lead in the 54th minute, as Congolese striker Mbokani contrived to fire the ball over an open net when only three yards from goal.

Mourinho threw on Harry Kane and Son Heung-min for Bale and Dele Alli in search of an equaliser, but again it was their opponents who should have scored when Norwegian wing-back Simen Jukleroed ran clean through on goal and blazed wildly over the bar.

Spurs dominated possession but never seriously threatened, and the Antwerp players were able to celebrate a famous triumph in an empty stadium.

Milan made it two wins from two in Group H with a 3-0 success over Sparta, despite Zlatan Ibrahimovic missing a first-half penalty.

Goals from Brahim Diaz, Rafael Leao and on-loan Manchester United wing-back Diogo Dalot saw Milan extend their unbeaten run to 24 matches in all competitions.

Stefano Pioli’s side sit two points clear of Lille at the top of the group, after the French outfit fought back from two goals down to grab a 2-2 home draw with Celtic.

Jamie Vardy netted a spot-kick as Leicester City made it back-to-back victories in Group G with a 2-1 win at AEK Athens, while Paco Alcacer scored a late double as Villarreal saw off Qarabag 3-1 in Group I.


Juve need to find a way to win without Ronaldo

Cristiano Ronaldo’s status remains unclear going into this weekend’s Serie A games, which means Juventus may have to finally find a way to win without him.

Ronaldo has yet to be cleared to return after testing positive for the coronavirus more than two weeks ago, and his absence has been keenly felt by a young Juventus side which is going through a transition under new coach Andrea Pirlo.

The nine-time defending Serie A champion has drawn its last two league matches without Ronaldo — against last-place Crotone and Hellas Verona — and was outclassed by Barcelona in a 2-0 loss in the Champions League on Wednesday.

On paper, though, Juventus should still be able to beat newly promoted Spezia on Sunday even if Ronaldo can’t play. But the Bianconeri have only won 55% percent of their matches without Ronaldo since the Portuguese star joined from Real Madrid in 2018, and are in danger of slipping behind in the domestic title race.

The two recent draws has left it four points leader AC Milan, which tries to extend its unbeaten record when it travels to Udinese on Sunday.

Ronaldo is also struggling to watch from the sidelines as he remains in quarantine in his house in Turin.