UFC Vegas 32 Cory Sandhagen vs TJ Dillashaw | DieHardMMAPreviews | Clint MacLean (@DieHardMMAPod)

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UFC Vegas 32 Cory Sandhagen vs TJ Dillashaw | DieHardMMAPreviews

By: Clint MacLean (@DieHardMMAPod)

 

UFC Vegas 31 was a wild night with a little bit of everything. These free fight cards that the UFC have been putting on really just have been fantastic recently and we will see that trend continue on Saturday. UFC Vegas 32 is a card stacked with great matchups and big personalities. Not just that, but UFC Vegas 32 is headlined by a fight that many of us would pay to see. Former bantamweight king TJ Dillashaw is making his long-awaited return after a 2-year layoff after testing positive for EPO and he is being welcomed back by Cory Sandhagen who is knocking on the door of a title shot.

The Fighters:

Cory Sandhagen (-200)

  • 29 years old
  • 14 – 2
  • 64% finish rate 
  • 6 wins by KO/TKO
  • Height: 5’11
  • Reach: 70’

Cory Sandhagen has been looked at as a hard horse in the UFC’s bantamweight division for years. Just one short year ago it looked like it was all coming together and Cory was going to finally get his shot at the trap but was robbed of that opportunity by Aljamain Sterling. After his brief setback, Cory has rattled off 2 quick finishes over MMA legends Marlon Moraes and Frankie Edgar. With a newly spruced up resume Cory is the man to welcome TJ Dillashaw back to the UFC and if he can get a win Sandhagen’s quest for a shot at the strap will be undeniable.

 

TJ Dillashaw (+160)

  • 35 years old
  • 16 – 4
  • 69% finish rate 
  • 8 wins by KO/TKO
  • Height: 5’6
  • Reach: 67’

TJ Dillashaw was on top of the world in 2018. After losing his belt to Dominick Cruz in a close split decision TJ rattled off back-to-back wins and then KO’d former teammate Cody Garbrandt in back-to-back fights winning his belt back and putting a stamp on the grudge match between the fighters. TJ was the undisputed king of 135 and one of the hottest prospects in the game, but he made the poor choice to drop to 125 and challenge olympian Henry Cejudo and it cost him. TJ was busted for taking EPO which is a banned performance-enhancing drug and it cost him 2 years of his prime. Now TJ is returning and he is not taking a tune-up fight. TJ wants to prove to the world that the EPO was in fact to help with his weight cut and is not something he has taken his entire career. He is returning to legitimize his run as a UFC champion and has the weight of the world on his shoulders.

 

The Matchup:

Cory Sandhagen is incredibly smooth on his feet. Tall and long for the division Cory is a problem on the feet for anybody. The way he moves and the way he sets traps is something beautiful. Cory has killer instinct but he doesn’t rush the finish which makes him all the more deadly in the cage. Even though Cory seems to have a bit of an issue in the grappling department he actually is just as dangerous off his back as he is on the feet. The submission offense from Cory is something that cannot be understated.

TJ Dillashaw is a hurricane in the cage. We have not seen him for 2 full years, but if TJ is anything like the man who left he is going to be a problem. The speed of TJ’s hands has always been his biggest strength in the cage and his most deadly weapon. We will find out on Saturday if TJ’s hands were drug-fueled nukes or if they really belonged to him all along.

The big question here is the layoff. TJ is coming back to prove that he belongs on the top of the mountain still and the way he was pushing 2 years ago there is a chance that this 2-year layoff could have been the best thing for him. Immediately after his suspension was announced TJ underwent shoulder surgery that he had been needing for a long time. If TJ comes back and has any spark left of his old self and a repaired body he will be just as much of a problem as he was when he left. I fully expect that TJ will pick up right where he left off. There are a lot of questions surrounding this fight, but I think that the disrespect for TJ is blatant and the fact that the MMA community is counting him out baffles me. If TJ is anything like his old championship self this fight should have him as the favorite and without proof that he has lost a step I will gladly take that value.

The Pick: TJ Dillashaw (+160)

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