Less than two months before his UFC San Antonio fight against Marlon Vera, Cory Sandhagen found himself nursing a minor injury and contemplating the end of his career. He realised that his approach to training and high expectations for fights had started to negatively impact his psyche. Sandhagen decided to make wholesale changes to his preparation and long-term career approach.
Sandhagen experienced a tendency to get bogged down in self-doubt, which was magnified by his high standards. He feared that this would impact the people around him: “I feel like I’m breathing off energy that people don’t want to be around me.” Sandhagen transformed his mindset after hearing a quote from Swiss psychologist Carl Jung: “What you’re doing and the way you’re doing it is important.” This made him feel like his actions, behaviours, and words mattered. Sandhagen said the quote made him “let go of all of that stuff and it made me so much lighter.
Sandhagen found himself in a dark hole after his first-round submission loss to Aljamain Sterling in 2020. The fight made him feel like he had to put additional pressure on himself to succeed, which he knew was the wrong direction. Sandhagen said he found a “nice in-between” where he wasn’t neurotic and overly negative, but he also wasn’t too easy-going.
Sandhagen’s changes were evident in his recent fight against Vera. He hopes to maintain the same attitude moving forward. Sandhagen is glad he got to let go of the neurosis and “won so I can continue to keep trusting that, because it is a much more enjoyable way to live life.”