Sandhagen (15-4 MMA, 8-3 UFC) was quickly submitted by Sterling (22-3 MMA, 14-3 UFC) at UFC 250, in a matchup that was dubbed as a No. 1 contender bout. Although it’s a loss that aged well with Sterling going on to become a defending bantamweight champion, it’s a loss that doesn’t sit well with Sandhagen.
Sandhagen is on the brink of a title shot having finished three of his past five opponents, but Sterling may not be at the top once he gets there. That’s because Sterling has been teasing a move up to featherweight – but that’s no problem for Sandhagen. He’ll just move up too if it’s the only way he gets his rematch.
“I think even if he does move up, I’ll probably follow him,” Sandhagen laughed. “I would really like to get that fight back, so maybe in the future that’ll happen.”
Other than the tough weight cut, part of bantamweight champion Sterling’s motivation to go up a division is to avoid fighting his good friend and teammate Merab Dvalishvili, which Sandhagen thinks is a very respectable move.
“I actually really commend Aljamain on making a move like that,” Sandhagen said. “Whether he follows through with it is a different story, but I think him doing that for his close buddy is something that says a lot about Aljamain, and I really commend him on being that type of friend.”
Sandhagen faces Marlon Vera in the UFC Fight Night 219 headliner on Feb. 18 at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas. Meanwhile, Sterling is projected to defend his title against the returning Henry Cejudo next.