MMA Fight Weekend: What to watch, odds, picks for Oct. 10
Sandhagen changes the mood before Morae's clash
UFC 250 was supposed to be a kind of coming-out party for Cory Sandhagen. He drove a heptathlon winning streak in a co-main event bout against Aljamain Sterling and the winner seemed almost certain of getting a title shot next.
It turned out to be nothing short of a disaster. Sterling submitted Sandhagen to Apex in Las Vegas and will challenge new champion Petr Yan for the title on his next outing.
Sandhagen had to pick up the pieces and wonder why something had gone wrong one night that he was so confident that he would appear in what was clearly the greatest fight of his life.
Usually, Sandhagen has to work days and hours before a fight to calm himself down. He is emotionally fired and eager for it. But for the sterling battle it was strangely the opposite.
Even as the seconds passed before he was supposed to go to the octagon, he was unusually calm.
"In my head I didn't make it the biggest fight of my life," Sandhagen said in a telephone interview with Yahoo Sports. "Honestly, I was a little cocky and I think this is the worst place you can get into a fight. I'm more nervous than cocky. It's just one of those things that I thought was a good thing at the time [ to be calm].
“I had so many fights and I was doing so well that I thought coming with the new territory, be calm. That's why I didn't change that state. I thought, 'I got that. I'm good at being down and being in the present and all of jazz. “But it was a little too much to be on the left side of the scale. I had to be more on the right side of the intensity part. "
He'll need every bit of his intensity when he takes on Marlon Moraes on Saturday (8pm ET, ESPN +) in Abu Dhabi on UFC Fight Island 5.
Cory Sandhagen wrapped his hands backstage during the UFC 250 at Apex on June 6, 2020 in Las Vegas. (Photo by Mike Roach / Zuffa LLC)
Moraes is one of the most aggressive bantamweight fighters, especially early on. History has shown that if you can survive the onslaught of Moraes, your chances of winning will increase.
This is a situation where Sandhagen can't sit back and wait a while to get into the fight. He has to be ready from the first bell.
It's another critical fight for him, and he said working with a sports psychologist made a significant difference.
Sandhagen is good enough to overcome the problems he had against Sterling and still win. But at the head of the division against the world's elite fighters, it's a different story.
"I give [Sterling] credit for realizing that I am not [ready] and I am not allowing myself to make my way into the fight easier," said Sandhagen. "I've learned a lot since then and it's been interesting. I've learned to wake up my body and mind with different types of exercises like breathing and admonitions and certain things like these. So now I feel very comfortable and confident about addressing this problem. "
Sandhagen is currently a -140 favorite at BetMGM with Moraes at +120.
Rothwell's warm words for Kenosha
UFC heavyweight Ben Rothwell, who will fight Marcin Tybura in Abu Dhabi on Saturday, is from Kenosha, Wisconsin. In August, as in many American cities, there were protests against the brutality of the police.
However, as a result of protests against the police shooting of Jacob Blake, things got out of control. Kyle Rittenhouse, a 17-year-old, is charged with shooting a protester. He was arrested and charged with first degree willful murder.
Rothwell has been open on social media, saying he takes heat for it. But he said things got better in Kenosha when the citizens realized that most of those who were causing the problems came from elsewhere.
"I don't want to break it off and say the community is shaken because that's what it felt like at first," said Rothwell. “People really got together to help one another, and people were starting to realize that most of the damage and slaughter was being caused by outsiders. The police were able to release many of those arrested, and they came from abroad and from different cities. So people started putting the pieces together: "This whole situation was pretty messed up."
“Everyone who checked out my social media was pretty much in the middle of it and was torn to pieces by both sides. I love people on both sides and we have to come together, not point fingers. That's more about Kenosha. We have a lot of people doing things for each other. People who have lost their business came together to help. It was really cool to see and I feel like we're getting through. "
At BetMGM, Rothwell wins with Tybura at +125 -150.
Side: My opposition is better than it looks
British welterweight Michael "Venom" Page will headline Bellator 248 on Saturday (11:30 am ET, CBS Sports Network / DAZN) from Paris when he meets Ross Houston.
Page is 17-1 but said he doesn't think he's getting enough credit for the quality of the opposition he is facing.
"Because of my style, I make really good opponents look very mediocre, which is great in terms of entertainment, but there is one side effect where people don't believe in the quality of the opponents I'm facing," said Page. "I could go up against Ross there and it's one of the toughest fights I've ever had. Or I'll go in there and it'll be a typical day at the park with MVP. He's definitely a believable opponent after accomplishing something I don't have a world title in MMA. He's undefeated too and I have to change that. It can be difficult to change something when someone is used to winning. "
Barboza needs to turn things around
Edson Barboza will face Mawkwan Amirkhani in Abu Dhabi on Saturday after losing three fights, although the last two were excruciatingly close losses for Paul Felder and Dan Ige.
He was supposed to fight Sodiq Yusuff, but Yusuff withdrew and Amirkhani was the late replacement. Amirkhani doesn't just play a role, it's a completely different style than Yusuff.
"I came to supposedly fight an Orthodox striker and now I am fighting a south paw grappler," said Barboza. "The most important thing is I'm ready. I trained so hard for this fight. I did my best in the gym. I'm more motivated than ever. I'm done. I really don't worry about who's in front of me."
Barboza is a -265 favorite over Amirkhani who comes back at +215 per BetMGM.
Courtesy of BetMGM.
Ben Rothwell -150 wins Marcin Tybura.
Impa Kasanganay -250 wins Joaquin Buckley; also likes Kasanganay to win at the finish.
Cory Sandhagen wins by deciding over Marlon Moraes.
Best bet: Tracy Cortez -200 wins Stephanie Egger.
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