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Cory Sandhagen calls out Merab Dvalishvili after dominating Marlon Vera, scoring bizarre split decision at UFC San Antonio

UFC Fight Night: Vera v Sandhagen Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

Cory Sandhagen looked sensational to everyone who watched him compete against Marlon Vera, with the exception of one judge scoring the fight.

Sandhagen and Vera battled in the highly-anticipated bantamweight headliner of UFC San Antonio, where the former used his diverse style to never allow Vera to really get going at any point during the 25-minute affair. In the end, Sandhagen earned 50-45 and a 49-46 scorecards, while judge Joel Ojeda delivered a head-scratching 48-47 in favor of Vera.

The high-level layers of Sandhagen’s game were shown early and often. Sandhagen moved constantly and landed a variety of strikes, while Vera used feints, sneaky leg kicks, and relied on his durability in the first round. When Sandhagen landed a flying knee against the fence, Vera smiled and tried to clap for his opponent before getting taken down and controlled. Yet, somehow, even off his back, Vera was able to bust Sandhagen open. It was a great start for Sandhagen in the opening round against a consummate slow-starter in Vera.

Sandhagen began the second aggressively, throwing power punches before landing a takedown. Vera tried to secure a guillotine, but Sandhagen patiently escaped and continued to pile on the control time on the mat. Sandhagen transitioned to side control and looked for a kimura, but settled for landing a slew of elbows before Vera got back to his feet, landing a body kick. Sandhagen continued to use incredible movement and mixed things up with his striking to cap off another winning round.

After being told by his coach that he was bumming him out, Vera began to open up a bit to start Round 3. Sandhagen continued to switch stances to give Vera lots to think about, but “Chito” landed a some hard kicks to the legs and body. Vera landed his best shot of the fight to this point — a hard left hand to the jaw of Sandhagen — and avoided another Sandhagen takedown attempt. Both men continued to land throughout a very competitive third, with Vera pushing forward more than he had in the previous 10 minutes.

As the championship rounds began, Vera defended three takedown attempts in the first minute, but Sandhagen continued to score in the standup department. Vera scored with a nice combination in the final 15 seconds of the round, but it wasn’t enough to steal any of Sandhagen’s momentum.

Sandhagen landed an early takedown in the final round, and when Vera got back to his feet, Sandhagen remained relentless with his wrestling attack. As the striking battle carried on, Vera landed occasionally, but often took four or five strikes at minimum before he landed again. Despite a final flurry from Vera, it was clear that it was Sandhagen’s night.

After the cards were read, Sandhagen called for a fight with Merab Dvalishvili, who was in attendance for the event and seemed just as excited about the matchup as Sandhagen.

With the win, Sandhagen picked up his second consecutive victory and improved to 4-2 over his six most recent appearances, while also snapping the impressive four-fight win streak of Vera.

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