Currently riding a nine-fight winning streak, bantamweight No.1 contender Merab Dvalishvili is a fighter most people in the division are eager to avoid having to fight, but after a decision win over Marlon Vera this past weekend, Cory Sandhagen immediately called out ‘The Machine’.
“Merab, you’re hungry? Well, I’ve got something for you to eat and it don’t taste good,” Sandhagen said on the mic after his big win.
That was Sandhagen’s second win in a row after TKO’ing Song Yadong last September, leaving him ranked No.5 in the division. So there’s other fighters above Sandhagen that he could have chosen to call out instead, but he’s since explained why he decided to go straight after Dvalishvili.
“I think Merab is the best guy in the division right now, outside who is fighting for the title,” Sandhagen said. “I don’t want to shy away from challenges. I don’t want to be that guy. I want to inspire people. I don’t want to cherrypick my fights all the way to the top. I want to fight the best guys, so that when I do get the title, I can defend it because I’m experienced. I think Merab is a perfect challenge for my type of style, for my type of fighting. He’s going to make me train really hard because of how good he is.
“Those are the types of guys that I want to fight,” continued Sandhagen. “And if I can get past him, then I 100 percent deserve a title shot. Like I said, I just don’t want to cherrypick guys. The guy is on a nine-fight winning streak. Who am I to call him out before, or to ask for a title [shot] before him? I’m not going to set that standard in MMA. People should be more real about it.”