In 2016, featherweight prospect Cory Sandhagen had his best year yet. After turning pro in late 2015, Sandhagen had four fights last year, and managed to pick up wins in all four bouts.
Not only was Sandhagen’s year successful inside the cage, but changes in his career outside it have helped crystalize his outlook for fighting going forward.
“Last year was kind of the year that I decided to make my UFC run,” Sandhagen told MMAWeekly.com. “I’m kind of tired of being one of the better guys in the gym and not having too many pro fights, and that motivated me last year.
“I made the decision to go to 145-pounds and fight a lot. Last year was easily my best year. I was in training camp basically the whole time and I loved it.”
For Sandhagen, the decision to move up in weight has more so paid off in terms of his preparations. Rather than worry about making weight, it allows him to focus more on getting the most of out his training each time he’s in the gym.
“In the fight it’s not a huge difference, but leading up to the fight is a major change,” said Sandhagen. “135-pounds gets a little bit ugly for me.
“Six weeks out I’m not lowering my calories, but eating really clean six weeks out, which takes a toll on you mentally and physically. I was hungry all the time, and wasn’t able to give my full push in any of my practices, just because I was worried about making it through the week and not dying from a lack of food.”
On Friday in Broomfield, Colo., Sandhagen (5-0) takes on his most experienced opponent yet, when he faces Jamall Emmers (10-3) in the co-main event of Legacy Fighting Alliance 5.
“In his fights he’ll stand with guys quite a bit, and he’ll shoot takedowns, he kind of plays the whole MMA game,” Sandhagen said of Emmers. “I think he’ll stand with me and realize that he can’t hit me or get his hands on me, so I think he’ll get desperate and shoot bad shots, and will leave himself open to submissions.
“I think he’ll be one my toughest opponents – maybe not my toughest opponent – but definitely the most skilled and most talented guy I’ve fought thus far.”
While he’s unsure of when he’ll get his opportunity to move up to the next level, Sandhagen feels that if he continues on his current course, the jump will happen sooner than later.
“It’s not up to me about that, I just have to stay in the gym and roll off as many fights as I can this year, and if I get the call, I get the call,” said Sandhagen.
“I’m going to doing my best to take big fights as much as I can, and if I do that and mind my business and keep my head down and work hard, I think I’ll get that call after two or three good finishes. Hopefully after this one I can get the LFA belt, and then it’s on to the UFC from there.”