MMAOB staff writer Adam Martin takes a deeper look at the main event of UFC Vegas 32, a five-round UFC bantamweight bout between Cory Sandhagen and TJ Dillashaw. The event takes place on Saturday, July 24 at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Cory Sandhagen (-185)
Sandhagen (14-2) is the No. 2 contender in the UFC bantamweight division. The 29-year-old American has been a professional MMA fighter since 2015 and he has been a member of the UFC roster since 2018. Since joining the UFC roster, Sandhagen is 7-1 in the Octagon with wins over Frankie Edgar, Marlon Moraes, Raphael Assuncao, John Lineker, Mario Bautista, Iuri Alcantara, and Austin Arnett, with his lone UFC loss coming to Aljamain Sterling. Sandhagen is one of the tallest and longest fighters in the division and he uses those advantages well in his fights as he is able to keep his distance and hurt his opponents from a long range. There are very few bantamweights who can hang with him on the feet. On the ground, Sandhagen has some submission skills but his takedown defense is a concern as he’s been taken down numerous times in the UFC. He is usually able to get back up, but that could eventually prove to be an issue against a high-level grappler.
TJ Dillashaw (+160)
Dillashaw (16-4) is the former UFC bantamweight champion. The 35-year-old American has been in the UFC since 2011 and he has a 12-4 record in the Octagon with notable wins over the likes of Cody Garbrandt, John Lineker, Raphael Assuncao, and Renan Barao. Dillashaw came from a wrestling background and he still has strong grappling skills but he became a UFC champion because he improved his striking to an elite level. Remember, he didn’t lose the belt in a fight, he lost it because he was caught for PEDs and had to vacate the title. Dillashaw was one of the best fighters in the world at one point and in his prime, he could have beaten anyone at 135lbs. But coming off of such a long layoff for PEDs, it’s very difficult to say what kind of form he will be in.
Fight Breakdown: This is a very intriguing matchup in the UFC bantamweight division, and I fully expect the winner to get a title shot against whoever wins the rematch between Petr Yan and Aljamain Sterling later this year. Both men have a ton of motivation heading into this fight and with them being former training partners, it adds another element to what is already a very interesting matchup. From a stylistic point of view, I think this is going to be a competitive fight on the feet, though I expect Sandhagen’s length and reach to give Dillashaw issues. For Dillashaw, his best way to win this fight might be to take Sandhagen down and ground him out. As far as the styles match up here, I think this is a very close fight. For me, it’s going to come down to fading Dillashaw here because he’s coming off of a 30-month layoff for performance-enhancing drugs. That’s an angle that has served me well in the past, so while I think from a style point-of-view Dillashaw has a chance to win this fight, just the fact he’s been off so long and won’t have PEDs anymore makes him a fade.
Prediction: Cory Sandhagen