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Dana White blasts split decision in UFC San Antonio main event: ‘That’s pretty scary’

MMA: MAR 08 Power Slap 1 Photo by Amy Kaplan/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Dana White saw something that one judge didn’t on Saturday: A clear-cut win for Cory Sandhagen.

The bantamweight contender earned a split nod over Marlon Vera in the main event of UFC San Antonio, but the fact that the decision wasn’t unanimous in Sandhagen’s favor left plenty of his peers scratching their heads.

You can count White among the observers who felt that Sandhagen did more than enough to sweep the scorecards.

“I was literally coming out of the bathroom and I was like, ‘What the f***?’” White said at the evening’s post-fight press conference when asked if he was surprised by the main event verdict. “Were you surprised? It could have been 5-0, it could have been [4-1], but split? Wow, that’s pretty scary.”

Sandhagen appeared to have Vera on the back foot for most of the fight as he mixed his wrestling with his expert range striking to frustrate “Chito.” Two of the judges scored the fight for Sandhagen to give him the win.

Though Sandhagen was never close to finishing the durable Vera, White was impressed all the same.

“[Sandhagen] looked incredible,” White said. “He shut him down. Incredible footwork. Lateral movement. Takedowns. He had it all.”

Vera entered Saturday’s headliner on the cusp of a title shot, owning wins in his past four fights and 10 of his past 12. The loss was his first since December 2020, and White wishes he could have seen Vera push the action more in the final two rounds.

“Chito, to me, looked really slow in the [Dominick] Cruz fight right up until he caught him and knocked him out,” White said. “So I was kind of waiting for that last two rounds and even his corner said to him, ‘You’ve got two rounds to finish this guy. You need to finish this fight.’”

Questionable judging or not, White believes that Sandhagen is firmly in the mix at 135 pounds. Sandhagen previously fought for an interim title as a short-notice replacement at UFC 267, where he lost a decision to Petr Yan in a five-round thriller. Current bantamweight champion Aljamain Sterling is scheduled to defend his title against former two-division champion Henry Cejudo at UFC 288 on May 6 in Newark, N.J.

In his post-fight interview, Sandhagen called for a matchup with Sterling’s close friend and training partner Merab Dvalishvili. White didn’t indicate whether that might be next for Sandhagen, but he doesn’t think Sandhagen is far off from challenging for a UFC belt again.

“Yeah, we there’s no doubt about it,” White said. “He looked really good tonight and, obviously, he beat the No. 3 guy in the world. That wasn’t a split decision. Whoever scored that fight a split decision should be — I don’t even know, I’m not even going to go there. He absolutely dominated tonight and put himself in a really good position.”

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