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Sandhagen continues fast track up Bantamweight rankings with trouncing of Assuncao

Corey Sandhagen forces his way into the conversation for Bantamweight title contention with his performance at UFC 241 and Raphael Assuncao continues his slide out of the Top 5

Colorado’s Corey Sandhagen (11-1) enters this contest undefeated in UFC on a 6 fight win streak, coming off a recent victory over John Lineker. Sandhagen stands to break into the top 5 rankings and title contention in the Bantamweight division with a win over Raphael Assuncao (27-6) . Assuncao currently ranks third in the division and must continue to keep the young blood at bay if he is to maintain his position and earn his chance at UFC gold. Frank Trigg is the official for this bout that has potential to shake up the top of the 135lb division.

Sandhagen controls the center of the octagon, switching stances and alternating from hand and leg strikes. Assuncao tries to control the ankle as the leg comes in and looses grip but keeps Sandhagen honest. Assuncao finds his strengths in the counterattack, and consistently is able to fire counter combinations as opposed to singular shots.

Both fighters exhibit nice head and shoulder movement. Sandhagen is calm and collected as he maintains variety in his movement and striking. Assuncao initiates the clinch but finds himself with his back to the fence. He breaks the clinch with a solid elbow and continues to circle the outside as Sandhagen settles into home in Assuncaos face. Sandhagen’s feints and fakes allow him unique striking options and keeps Assuncao’s counter efforts stifled.

They start the second round with trading front kicks as the work back into rhythm. Sandhagen keeps his hands naturally low and is constantly looking for wrist control and distraction. When Sandhagen level changes into the underhook he masks it with a sidestep the looks to set up an uppercut, but the uppercut takes the under hook. As the match goes to ground, Assuncao looks at home riding the seatbelt of Sandhagen. Sandhagen is able to take Assuncao’s leg and transition to top control only to give up the same position back to Assuncao.

The tug of war for top control continues as Sandhagen keeps his options open and doesn’t over commit to finishes that aren’t present. Assuncao locks up Sandhagen’s legs after a wild grappling exchange that leaves them in a very unusual position. Assuncao looks in control on the ground regardless of position, but Sandhagen constantly offers problems for him. With one arm and one leg locked up by Assuncao, Sandhagen looks to just pummel the body and score points as the round expires.

Sandhagen’s corner sends him on a mission to outpoint Assuncao in round three and patiently find his shots. Sandhagen’s fight allows for more paths to victory as Assuncao’s is much more singular. Every time Assuncao takes the game to ground Sandhagen is able to stand it right back up. Sandhagen continues to utilize his upper cut/underhook feints to find continued success on the feet. Assuncao is comfortable in his most unproductive positions, which Sandhagen confidently uses to his advantage. Sandhagen finishes the round strong to earn a unanimous (30-27,30-27,29-28) decision victory.

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