Song Yadong showed an indomitable will but sustained too much damage in his UFC Fight Night main event against Cory Sandhagen. A cut opened up over Song’s left eye in Round 2 and got progressively worse as the fight dragged on inside the UFC Apex in Las Vegas before Herb Dean finally waved things off after Round 4.
Song performed well early, arguably landing the harder shots in Round 1 and wobbling his higher-ranked foe in Round 2. Sandhagen executed a strategic game plan. He wrestled early and often, disrupting Song’s rhythm and misdirecting Song’s focus. The early commitment to wrestling opened up Sandhagen’s striking game as the fight progressed.
It was a clever standing upward elbow that opened a terrible gash over Song’s left eye in the second. A concerned ringside doctor checked on the cut after the second and third frames but permitted Song to continue. The gash expanded in Round 4 and Song’s left eye started to swell. The doctor informed Dean that he was uncomfortable with the damage Song had sustained, leading Dean to wave off the fight before the start of the final round.
“I hate that it ended that way. He deserved a fifth round,” Sandhagen said after the fight. “I robbed the guy of his power. He is one hell of a striker.”
Sandhagen suggested a return to competition around Christmas and named Marlon Vera or Merab Dvalishvili as potential opponents. He also alluded to fighting the four bantamweights competing at UFC 280: Sean O’Malley, Aljamain Sterling, T.J. Dillashaw and Petr Yan.
Sandhagen (15-4) won his first fight in 19 months after falling short against Yan and Dillashaw — the first consecutive losses of his professional career. Song (19-7-1, 1 NC) snapped a three-fight winning streak attained by defeating Marlon Moraes, Julio Arce and Casey Kenney.