Cory Sandhagen was in desperate need of a win, and he got one thanks to a perfectly placed elbow.
Sandhagen (15-4 MMA, 8-3 UFC) had a few issues with a tough and gritty Song Yadong (19-7-1 MMA, 8-2-1 UFC). But a cut over Yadong’s left eye that Sandhagen created with an elbow was too deep for Yadong to continue into the final round. Sandhagen got a TKO finish when the doctor shut things down in between the fourth and fifth rounds.
The bantamweight bout was the UFC Fight Night 210 main event at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas.
“I robbed the guy of his power (with takedown attempts),” Sandhagen said in his post-fight interview. “He’s a hell of a striker … the intention wasn’t to get the takedown the whole time – it was just win the little minutes. That’s how you kind of win in MMA, so I’m trying to play the sport part of the game now, too.”
— UFC (@ufc) September 18, 2022
Sandhagen pushed forward early, then moved in for a takedown attempt. Yadong stayed upright without much issue and the two clinched along the fence for 45 seconds until Yadong broke away. Sandhagen threw a big spinning back kick that was just off the mark, and Yadong nearly made him pay with a kick of his own when Sandhagen got off balance. Yadong landed a cracking left counter punch a few moments later, and it forced Sandhagen to clinch him again. Midway through the round, Sandhagen went for his third takedown, but again couldn’t land it and Yadong wound up on top on the canvas. When Sandhagen moved back to his feet, Yadong took his back and looked for a submission, but Sandhagen’s defense kept him out of trouble. Sandhagen landed a big body kick with 90 seconds left, but Yadong walked through it.
A minute into the second, Yadong landed a big left that wobbled Sandhagen. Yadong stayed patient, and when Sandhagen recovered, he tried a jumping knee that Yadong was wise to. Sandhagen landed a takedown 90 seconds in, but Yadong was up to his feet almost immediately – quickly enough that it didn’t count as a takedown. Sandhagen went for another level change shortly after that, but the takedown wasn’t there. A perfectly placed elbow cut Yadong open in a big way above his left eye, and though it should have upped his urgency, there wasn’t much there for him the rest of the way in the second.
The cageside doctor looked at Yadong’s cut in between rounds and said he was OK to continue in the third. They traded kicks through the first minute, and when Sandhagen shot for a takedown, Yadong once again stuffed it. Yadong’s cut started flowing midway through the round after he stuffed another takedown attempt. Sandhagen clinched him against the fence, but Yadong punched his way out. They traded punches and kicks in the final minute of a round that Sandhagen likely took back.
Yadong’s cut was worse going into the fourth, and the doctor said if it got worse, referee Herb Dean would be wise to stop it. Sandhagen looked very deliberate and patient, but it only took a minute for Yadong’s cut to open back up. Yadong kicked Sandhagen’s leg out and took him down and tried to go to work on top. Yadong briefly got to side control, but Sandhagen got back to his feet and clinched Yadong up. Yadong drilled Sandhagen with a right midway through the round, but he couldn’t put enough together to have him in danger. Sandhagen finally got a takedown and did solid work on the canvas the rest of the way with Yadong a bloody mess.
In between rounds, the cageside doctor said the cut was too bad for Yadong to continue, which gave Sandhagen a much-needed TKO win.
Sandhagen snapped a two-fight skid with arguably the most important win of his career. Yadong had a three-fight winning streak snapped with the loss.
Up-to-the-minute UFC Fight Night 210 results include:
Cory Sandhagen def. Song Yadong via TKO (doctor’s stoppage) – Round 4, 5:00
For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC Fight Night 210.