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Sandhagen Takes Aim at Another Former Champion in Dillashaw

Sandhagen Ready To Welcome Back Dillashaw

The smorgasbord of great UFC fights for July continues Saturday as Cory Sandhagen welcomes back former two-time bantamweight champion T.J. Dillashaw after two years for serving a doping suspension.

The UFC odds have Sandhagen (14-2-0) as a decided favorite thanks to being more active and on a hot streak. It’s also uncertain how Dillashaw (17-4-0) will look after such a long layoff. Either way, this main event should be an action-packed affair with a high chance of a finish likely leaning towards the favorite.

Cory Sandhagen punches Raphael Assuncao in the first round during their Bantamweight Bout at UFC 241
Joe Scarnici/Getty Images/AFP
  • Date: Saturday, July 24, 6 p.m. ET
  • Venue: UFC Apex, Enterprise, NV, United States
  • Watch on: ESPN+

Cory Sandhagen vs T.J. Dillashaw

Weight Class: Bantamweight (135 lbs)

Rounds: Five (Main Event)

Odds: Dillashaw +155 || Sandhagen -190

While not explicitly stated, this bout between Sandhagen and Dillashaw is likely a title eliminator. The winner of this fight will face the bantamweight champion whether it’s Aljamain Sterling or Petr Yan down the road. Both Sandhagen and Dillashaw are hungry for the opportunity, which will make for an entertaining affair.

Dillashaw: Loading Time

Dillashaw will be an underdog for only the third time in his 10-year UFC career. He’s also won both those previous fights against Cody Garbrandt and Renan Barao to capture the bantamweight title. There are a lot of question marks for the 35-year-old here.

The first would be how he performs when he’s off the “juice.” Dillashaw was busted for erythropoietin (EPO), which can increase the number of red blood cells and their aerobic capacity. That may explain why Dillashaw has been a cardiovascular freak in his fights.

The other concern is the ring rust. Dillashaw hasn’t fought in well over two years and could take time to “turn it up.” He still has the footwork, fluid striking, and wrestling to give Sandhagen or any contender a run for their money. The question is how long it takes him to start executing.

Sandhagen: Champion Slayer

Since being submitted by the current champion, Sterling, Sandhagen has won two fights in as little as six minutes and thirty seconds. And he did it against two former champions: former WSOF champion Marlon Moraes and former UFC lightweight champion Frankie Edgar.

Outside of that blemish against Sterling, Sandhagen has dusted every opponent he’s faced. At 5-foot-11 with a 70-inch reach, he is long and fast and can switch stances. Any striker that will stand and trade with Sandhagen is asking to get shredded.

And we’re not discounting Sandhagen’s ground game. Sandhagen has a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and has three wins by submission. He will be dangerous off his back if he gets taken down. Add his endurance and his high volume, and he is a fighting machine ready for a title shot.

Fight Pick: Won’t Be Denied

This fight will be determined by wrestling or lack thereof. While both fighters are strikers, Dillashaw should have the wrestling edge. He was a former NCAA Division I wrestler and has used his wrestling, namely against John Lineker, who he took down five times and beat up.

Sandhagen doesn’t have the best wrestling defense and his 30% takedown defense means he usually gets taken down in his fights. However, he has won all of these fights because he’s able to get back up and outstrike his opponents.

Dillashaw should have some success taking Sandhagen down, but he won’t finish him. Sandhagen will get back up and test Dillashaw’s endurance. By the time it’s the championship rounds, Sandhagen will be the fresher fighter and will take over the fight.

The first few rounds will be close with Dillashaw likely gaining an edge with the wrestling. But once the fight gets on its feet, bet online the younger and faster Sandhagen to outstrike Dillashaw as he collects his third straight scalp.

Pick: Cory Sandhagen -190