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Cory Sandhagen officially scratched from UFC Raleigh, targets marquee name for return

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Top UFC bantamweight contender Cory Sandhagen will not be fighting at UFC Raleigh, as it turns out.

Sandhagen now plans to wait for a marquee opponent – ideally Marlon Moraes or ex-champ Dominick Cruz – in his next octagon appearance, he told MMA Fighting via text message after an initial report from MMA DNA.

Sanhagen also welcomed a fight with Petr Yan in a subsequent Instagram post.

Sandhagen originally was booked for the Jan. 25 card opposite ex-lightweight champ Frankie Edgar. But the UFC re-scheduled Edgar for UFC Busan this past Saturday when onetime title challenger Brian Ortega fell off due to injury and the promotion needed an opponent for South Korean star Chan Sung Jung.

Edgar’s reps hoped to keep him on the Raleigh card despite the short turnaround. Prior to UFC Busan, the promotion hadn’t fully committed to a new opponent for Sandhagen. But when Edgar was knocked out in the first round by Jung, drawing a potentially lengthy medical suspension, he was effectively ruled out as an option.

Sandhagen had expressed his disappointment in Edgar’s re-booking on social media and vowed to move on with his career. The 27-year-old bantamweight has won five straight in the octagon to climb into the ranks of potential title contenders.

Other top bantamweights hope to be next in line, among them Moraes, who earlier this month outpointed ex-featherweight champ Jose Aldo at UFC 245. Cruz previously has targeted a return for late 2019 after another injury forced him to the sidelines.

Waiting for the contenders is champ Henry Cejudo, who relinquished his flyweight title this past week after calling to fight Aldo.

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