Cory Sandhagen stops Marlon Moraes with spinning wheel kick at UFC Fight Island 5
On the night that Joaquin Buckley illuminated the internet with arguably the greatest result in UFC history, Cory Sandhagen himself scored a spectacular result in the greatest fight of his life.
Sandhagen recovered from an impressive first round loss to Aljamain Sterling in June by kicking the head at the start of the second round on Saturday in Abu Dhabi to drop Moraes and throw him backwards into the cage.
Sandhagen immediately jumped on him and landed several shots before referee Marc Goddard made the second stop at 1:03 a.m.
It was a critical win in competitive bantamweight that finished the Moraes at number 1.
Sandhagen said the kick was something he practiced repeatedly over the summer as, like so many from the coronavirus pandemic, it was confined to his home.
"That brings this work during the quarantine," said Sandhagen. "If you can't go to the gym and just hit the bob, I've had to improve my game and I'm always working. Hard work pays off."
Sandhagen fought brilliantly against Moraes, controlled the distance in the first lap and kicked Moraes in the legs.
He was the fighter in the main event of a map that was among the best of the year, with a series of violent outcomes and back and forth fights. Nothing was better than Buckley's devastating end to Impa Kasanagay.
Buckley threw a body kick that Kasanagay caught and held him. Buckley turned and fired a spinning foot, his foot landing right on Kasanagay's nose. Kasanagay fell backwards with a dead body and the fight was immediately stopped. UFC President Dana White told Yahoo Sports that Kasanagay checked out well on investigation after the fight.
That led to a big night for the UFC on social media. In the first two hours, the video was viewed eight million times and it was the most engaging tweet from the UFC account ever to be posted on Twitter. And the hashtag # UFCFightIsland5 was the third global trend on Twitter.
Sandhagen gave them something to appreciate in the main event.
He suffered a disappointing loss to Sterling at UFC 250 in June and told Yahoo Sports ahead of the fight that he was too cool and calm before the start. After that fight, he hired a sports psychologist and it was obvious the news got through.
Moraes is one of the UFC's most aggressive fighters and steps forward at all times, especially at the start of fights.
That night, however, played exactly what Sandhagen wanted to do.
"He threw wild shots, but I saw everything coming and then I knew that I had him," said Sandhagen.
The goal came early in the second. Sandhagen was in the middle of the ring and used his speed to turn the bike kick and land. Moraes fell back and did a somersault to get to safety, but Sandhagen was on top of him in a flash.
He quickly ended the fight and regained the mojo he lost after the puzzling loss to Sterling. It wasn't that Sandhagen lost, which was puzzling. it was that he didn't look engaged.
But that night he was prepared and ready, proving that he will be a handful for everyone in the division.
(L-R) Cory Sandhagen joins Marlon Moraes of Brazil in bantamweight during the UFC Fight Night at the Flash Forum on UFC Fight Island on October 11, 2020 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Josh Hedges / Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
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