Marlon Moraes already claims the mantle of No. 1 contender in the UFC’s bantamweight division. But he may need a convincing win over Cody Sandhagen at UFC Fight Night 179 to earn another shot at the title.

Marlon Moraes Cory Sandhagen odds
Marlon Moraes (pictured) sees his Saturday fight against Cory Sandhagen has a chance to prove himself against an elite bantamweight opponent. (Image: Steve Marcus/Getty)

Moraes and Sandhagen headline a card that features a number of entertaining fighters and promising prospects, all of whom will step into the Octagon on Saturday at the UFC’s Fight Island complex in Abu Dhabi.

Moraes Faces Tough Test in Sandhagen

It’s been a long layoff for Moraes (23-6-1), who last fought in December at UFC 2019. There, he earned a split-decision victory over Jose Aldo. Yet when Henry Cejudo vacated his bantamweight belt, it was Aldo, not Moraes who was put into a fight for the vacant title with now champion Petr Yan.

During his media day appearance, Moraes made it clear he wasn’t worried about being passed over. Instead, he focused on what he could prove in his bout with Sandhagen.

“I want to get in there and show the kind of caliber fighter I am,” Moraes told reporters. “Get in there against a highly skilled opponent like Cody. Cody’s not an easy fight for anybody. In my opinion, he’s one of the best fighters in the division, and he’s one of the hardest guys to fight.”

Sandhagen (12-2) emerged as a contender in 2019 when he reeled off consecutive wins over Mario Bautista, John Lineker, and Raphael Assuncao. A June loss to Aljamain Sterling may have cooled talk of a title shot, but Sandhagen still holds the No. 4 bantamweight ranking. Now, he gets an opportunity to get back on track and prove he deserves his place among the division’s elite after that disappointing showing.

UFC Fight Night: Moraes vs. Sandhagen Odds (via FanDuel Sportsbook)
Marlon Moraes: +126 Cory Sandhagen: -148
Edson Barboza: -260 Makwan Amirkhani: +215
Ben Rothwell: -164 Marcin Tybura: +138
Markus Perez: +136 Dricus du Plessis: -162
Tom Aspinall: -550 Alan Baudot: +410

“I want to show everyone what I’m actually capable of, so I’m excited to do that,” Sandhagen told reporters. “I’m definitely not just writing it off. There’s a reason that things happen like that, especially something like that where I know I’m not that bad of a grappler. It’s like, something else was going on. I’ve been kind of hesitant to call it because I don’t want it to seem like an excuse, you know? But I wasn’t a good enough fighter on that night to know where I am capable of performing at a high level as far as where my intensity needs to be.”

Barboza Favored in Co-Main Event

Despite his lower ranking, Sandhagen enters the bout as a -148 favorite over Moraes (+126), according to FanDuel Sportsbook. As usual at 135 pounds, Sandhagen is the bigger fighter, and if he can survive an early onslaught – always a huge ask against Moraes – then Sandhagen should be able to physically control the fight in the later rounds.

The UFC Fight Night 179 co-main event features featherweights Edson Barboza (20-9) and Makwan Amirkhani (16-4). While Barboza comes into the bout having lost five of his last six fights, he should benefit from a step down in competition against “Mr. Finland.” Barboza enters as a solid -260 favorite over Amirkhani (+215).

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