Marlon Moraes: Cory Sandhagen ‘surprised me’ with kick, stoppage was ‘a little early’

Marlon Moraes gives Cory Sandhagen full credit for the spinning wheel kick that spelled the beginning of the end of Saturday’s UFC on ESPN+ 37 main event, but he wishes he got a little more leeway from the referee en route to his loss.

Moraes (23-7-1 MMA, 5-3 UFC) got caught with the highlight-reel strike from Sandhagen (13-2 MMA, 6-1 UFC) early in the second round of their bantamweight headliner, which took place at Flash Forum at Yas Island in Abu Dhabi and streamed on ESPN+. The Brazilian got knocked down from the blow, then his opponent swarmed with a couple more strikes on the ground, resulting in the fight being waved off by referee Marc Goddard.

Although Moraes admits the shot was a good one, and he was certainly not at 100 percent, he said he felt there was still some fight left in him.

“He kind of catch me with a kick and bloodied my eye a little bit and right after he surprised me,” Moraes said on the UFC on ESPN+ 37 post-fight show. “He didn’t come this way, he came the other way and that’s it. Probably a little early stoppage, but whatever. I thought I was (able to continue) but the ref just jumped on me. I didn’t have enough time to get up.”

Moraes understands that these type of results are all part of the sport. He’s dished it out many times, and has had moments where he had to take it, too. This was one of those, but Moraes didn’t see any catastrophic errors on his behalf. He thought he fought well, but Sandhagen was able to find his target first.

“I just got caught,” Moraes said. “He catch me. I was doing good the first round, it was a good fight. I was very excited for this fight. … Unfortunately, I got caught. I caught a lot of guys before, but that was my day.”

Moraes has lost fights before and still managed to work his way back into position as one of the world’s top 135-pound fighters. This was a costly outcome in terms of his short-term plans of getting to a title fight and capturing gold, but Moraes isn’t to be deterred.

The former WSOF champion said he wants to put this fight behind him, and the best way to do that would be getting another one scheduled before the end of the year.

“I just want to go home and get another fight,” Moraes said. “I want to be busy. That’s a long time no fights. Hopefully I can get another one by December.”

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