T.J. Dillashaw has been cleared to return from his 2019 USADA suspension since January, yet there still has been no word on who he will be facing when he returns to action. Dillashaw has already made his preference clear that he would like to have a title shot in his first fight back. Current bantamweight champion Petr Yan agrees, stating that if he should get past Aljamain Sterling at UFC 259, his preferred next title defense would come against Dillashaw. But there are some notable names in the title picture who firmly disagree.
Cory Sandhagen Sides With Aljamain Sterling and Frankie Edgar
Aljamain Sterling and Frankie Edgar have both made their feelings clear about the matter. They both believe that Dillashaw needs to prove himself again after being busted for taking EPO. #2-ranked bantamweight contender Cory Sandhagen echoes the stances of his two peers.
“I hope he doesn’t get a (title shot) right off the bat,” Sandhagen said in a media scrum prior to UFC Vegas 18. “I think that the guy’s coming off a two-year suspension for not a soft drug. EPO is a serious drug, and I don’t think he should come back and fight for the title just because he has a big name.
“Give him someone, give him anyone. I asked for him after my last fight and didn’t get him. So I don’t really know what’s going on. And who knows what’s gonna happen with that? I don’t think it should happen, if you want my opinion about it.”
What’s In Store For Bantamweight Division In 2021?
With Petr Yan backing Dillashaw’s bid for an immediate title shot, Dillashaw may choose to wait to learn the outcome of Yan’s upcoming title defense against Sterling. If Yan is victorious, then that would only leave the UFC brass to finalize a Yan/Dillashaw showdown. Sandhagen thinks he has a finger on why Yan has selected Dillashaw over other bantamweight contenders.
“I think the only reason that he wants T.J. is because T.J hasn’t fought in two years, he’s not gonna be on steroids anymore, and he’s getting a little bit older. I don’t think that he really wants to fight a tough guy who doesn’t have the same fandom as he does, and I think that that’s me, and I think that I’m the tougher fight. But I think that T.J’s ‘the bigger fight.’ That’s kind of how the game works a little bit.”
In a perfect world, Cory Sandhagen believes that a win over Frankie Edgar will put him in the front of the line for a bantamweight title shot. He would then like to close out the year leaving no doubt on who the new king of 135 is.
“Yeah, I want to fight the winner of Sterling and Yan in July,” Sandhagen said. “And then, I want to defend the belt this year, at the end of the year. So that’s what my 2021 looks like, hopefully, it’ll go that way.”
Do you agree with Cory Sandhagen? Should T.J. Dillashaw get at least one win upon his return before he receives a bantamweight title shot?