Sandhagen (17-4 MMA, 10-3 UFC) was scheduled to meet Nurmagomedov in the UFC on ESPN 50 headliner this past August but wound up facing Rob Font instead after Nurmagomedov was forced out due to injury. Sandhagen picked up a dominant unanimous decision win over Font, in a fight in which he tore his triceps in Round 1.
In a recent interview with MMA Junkie, Sandhagen said the idea of fighting for the title upon his return wouldn’t be “outlandish.” He no longer sees upside in fighting unbeaten rising contender Nurmagomedov (16-0 MMA, 4-0 UFC).
“If you want to talk about a fair circumstance, I think that is pretty fair,” Sandhagen said in an interview with SportsKeeda. “If we were on the same plane, going into that last one before he pulled out, which we weren’t, but I took the fight because I wanted a No. 1 contender fight.
“If we were on the same plane then and then I just racked a win against another really tough guy, with a first-round injury and still dominated, I don’t really see us being on the same plane anymore. I think that he needs one or two more wins, I think him getting hurt was a bummer for him because I don’t really know how many other guys are going to step up.”
Sandhagen has now won three straight. Prior to beating Font, Sandhagen scored a shut out of Marlon Vera, who challenges bantamweight champion Sean O’Malley for the title in a rematch at UFC 299 on March 9.