Cory Sandhagen says he ‘coached’ referee through stoppage in UFC Lincoln ‘Fight of the Night’

LINCOLN, Neb. – Cory Sandhagen agrees his UFC Fight Night 135 bout against Iuri Alcantara was stopped too late.

Sandhagen (9-1 MMA, 2-0 UFC) defeated Alcantara (36-10 MMA, 10-7 UFC) in the “Fight of the Night” on Saturday at Pinnacle Bank Arena in Lincoln, Neb. After overcoming a deep early submission attempt, Sandhagen put a drawn-out beating on his Brazilian foe that left absolutely no doubt.

After finally waving off the fight for the early second-round TKO, referee Brandon Pfannenstiel took some heat for allowing Alcantara to take excessive punishment. The event broadcast reported after the bout that Pfannenstiel had been pulled from any further assignments on the night, and during his post-fight scrum, Sandhagen revealed he was talking to the referee during the fight-ending flurry.

“I coached him a little bit,” Sandhagen told MMAjunkie. “I don’t know if I should say this or not, but I was on top punching, punching, punching him. He was defending himself, but not enough to my standard of defending yourself. I looked at the ref, I said, ‘Hey, he’s really hurt. He’s not doing anything.’ My coaches told me to throw big shots, I threw big shots, and then the ref called it.”

Controversial officiating or not, Sandhagen’s performance at UFC Fight Night 135 was something to behold. Alcantara came storming out of the gate and had Sandhagen on his heels early in the bantamweight bout. He grounded his opponent and locked in a triangle-armbar combination, which Sandhagen somehow survived.

Sandhagen’s arm was bent at a gruesome angle on several occasions, but the featherweight somehow kept his composure. Sandhagen said his goal during the sequence was to avoid the choke so he didn’t get put to sleep, and he was willing to sacrifice his arm in order to make that happen.

“I knew it was going to be wild and we were going to have to weather some storms,” Sandhagen said. “I always want to do better, even in the fights I do well. I went into that fight telling myself, ‘I’m not losing this fight. I do not care.’ So when he had me in that (submission), it didn’t matter to me. I felt it pop; I felt it break. It didn’t matter to me. I wasn’t going to lose.”

With the victory, Sandhagen has now won his past four bouts, including two TKO finishes to begin his UFC tenure. He put an extra $50,000 in his bank with the “Fight of the Night,” and although he took some damage in the process, Sandhagen said he’s looking to return this year – ideally on a marquee card.

“One more this year,” Sandhagen said. “I would like to be on a big card where I can really get my name out there. This was a big one for me. My name will be out there now, I believe. I want on a big card with some big names. Maybe at the end of the year in December? I don’t think I’ll be ready before that.”

For complete coverage of UFC Fight Night 135, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

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