After serving a two-year suspension following a positive test for EPO in 2019, Dillashaw made his return to action in Saturday’s headliner. With no tune-up fight, the former 135-pound UFC champion entered the Octagon with Sandhagen, the #2-ranked bantamweight.
In one of the closest five-round battles in recent memory, the 35-year-old immediately jumped back to the top of the division with a split decision victory (47-48, 48-47, 48-47). Despite narrowly out-striking Dillashaw with more damaging shots, over eight minutes of control time for the Californian appeared to be the difference.
Taking to his Instagram account to address his second loss in the UFC, Sandhagen admitted he needed to do more during the fight, but questioned the value of Dillashaw’s control time over the damage he inflicted on the former champ.
“My thoughts on the fight, as I’m sure some of you are curious: I believe I should have done more to win. I made a few mistakes that gave him a nod from the judges. I kept myself protected and defended almost all the shots while scoring the harder and cleaner ones. He was able to control against cage for longer, while not doing any damage.. up to you if you score that as winning. I will give credit to TJ for fighting tough. It was a coin toss. If it’s damage, I win. If it’s control, he wins. So it goes.. thanks for the support from everyone.. gonna keep climbing”
Like many, “The Sandman” acknowledged how close the fight was and suggested people will decide who deserved the win based off which elements of the bout they value more. But having seemed disheartened and upset with the decision during his post-fight interview with Daniel Cormier, Sandhagen appears to have come to terms with the defeat and is ready to “keep climbing” in the UFC.
While the 29-year-old begins preparation for a rebound fight against another top contender, T.J. Dillashaw has jumped right back into title contention and will likely face the winner of the championship rematch between Aljamain Sterling and Petr Yan, which is expected to take place in Abu Dhabi at UFC 267 later this year.
Who do you think deserved the main event victory at UFC Vegas 32? Cory Sandhagen or T.J. Dillashaw?