After serving a two-year suspension following a positive EPO test, Dillashaw will be making his highly anticipated return to action in this weekend’s main event. Against Sandhagen, the former UFC Bantamweight Champion will look to show that he hasn’t lost a step and can still compete with the elite at 135 pounds.
Despite facing a man in red-hot form, Dillashaw is confident of picking up the win and even securing a finish in Saturday’s headliner. His advantage heading into their clash, Dillashaw says, will come from his previous sparring sessions with “The Sandman.” The former bantamweight champ has spoken about the inclusion of Sandhagen in his camp prior to his fight with Dominick Cruz.
While speaking with ESPN MMA’s Brett Okamoto, Dillashaw suggested the past spars with his upcoming opponent will certainly help him when they meet inside the Octagon.
“It definitely comes a lot from that. But I mean, anyone can talk about practice. It’s about getting in there and performing under the lights and doing it when it all matters.”
Dillashaw added that, whilst Sandhagen may think the experience favors him heading into this weekend’s event, he’s a different level on fight night compared to practice. That’s something he says arch-rival Cody Garbrandt knows all about.
“Same when I fought [Cody] Garbrandt. I’ll take the saying from David Taylor, guy that trains with Sam Calavitta, it’s like, everyone knows that trains with me: I’m willing to take you to the depths of hell. And if you’re willing to follow me, I’ll take you even further.
“…And you know that fighting me. Everyone can talk about practice this, practice that, but they just know that the fight with me is gonna be on another level. And I think it weighs into my advantage, so I think it does play a factor.”
While Dillashaw is set to make his first walk to the Octagon since January 2019, Sandhagen is set to make his sixth. Aside form a first-round submission loss to current champ Aljamain Sterling, the 29-year-old has been impeccable in the UFC. Back-to-back highlight reel knockouts against Marlon Moraes and Frankie Edgar have most likely left Sandhagen just one win away from a title shot.
With the likes of Brendan Allen, Aspen Ladd, Kyler Phillips, and Mickey Gall in action, the upcoming UFC Vegas 32 card looks set to challenge the entertainment levels we saw at UFC Vegas 31 and UFC 264.
Do you think T.J. Dillashaw can return successfully against Cory Sandhagen at UFC Vegas 32.