Umar Nurmagomedov sees Cory Sandhagen as a tougher fight than Sean O’Malley: ‘His IQ is very high level’

Umar Nurmagomedov thinks Cory Sandhagen is a sterner test for him than the champion.

Nurmagomedov (17-0 MMA, 5-0 UFC) called for his previously scrapped bout with Sandhagen (17-4 MMA, 10-3 UFC) to be rescheduled after defeating newcomer Bekzat Almakhan at UFC Fight Night 238.

Nurmagomedov got his wish when Sandhagen verbally agreed to fight him, but that doesn’t mean the undefeated rising contender is taking him lightly. In fact, he sees Sandhagen as a tougher challenge than bantamweight champion Sean O'Malley (18-1 MMA, 10-1 UFC).

“I think one of the hard fights in my division, it’s Cory,” Nurmagomedov told ESPN. “Nobody fights like Cory. He’s talented, he has very good technique, and I like this. It’s big challenge for me. I want to fight – if I will choose, of course I want to fight with Cory, and I hope to soon because I want to begin my training camp. … Yes, I think it’s more hard than even O’Malley because Cory, it’s very difficult. His IQ is very high level I think.”

Nurmagomedov was critical of O’Malley’s wrestling. After seeing him get taken down six times by Petr Yan at UFC 280, he questions his defense.

“When I saw his fight with Petr Yan and Petr Yan take him down, I understand he’s not high-level wrestler and he don’t have some defense,” Nurmagomedov said. “I think it’s going to be very difficult to learn. If you want to wrestle from a high level, couple years, you need this.”

For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC 299.

Story originally appeared on MMA Junkie