BREAKING: TJ Dillashaw Returns From Two-Year Suspension to Face Cory Sandhagen on May 8

Published 03/19/2021, 1:29 AM EDT
LOS ANGELES, CA – AUGUST 04: TJ Dillashaw celebrates after his knockout victory over Cody Garbrandt in their UFC bantamweight championship fight during the UFC 227 event inside Staples Center on August 4, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)


Former UFC bantamweight champion TJ Dillashaw is finally booked for an octagon return following his two-year EPO suspension. Dillashaw will take on Cory Sandhagen, who is on an absolute tear with two straight performance-bonus-worthy wins under his belt. The bout is being targeted as the main event for UFC Fight Night on May 8, per Brett Okamoto.

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Dillashaw’s suspension was lifted in the middle of January, however, he waited on the sidelines for a match-up. Chiefly, several top bantamweights including Cory Sandhagen called out Dillashaw and ‘The Sandman’ pulled on the lucky draw. Moreover, there’s a built-in narrative heading into the fight as both men have trained together before.

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UFC bantamweights: TJ Dillashaw vs Cory Sandhagen

TJ Dillashaw is 4-1 in his last five outings and he’s managed to come out on top against a flurry of massive names in the UFC. There’s plenty of speculation regarding his return, especially when considering he was popped for EPO. Fans will tune in to see whether he performs at the same functioning rate as he did in his hey-day.

LOS ANGELES, CA – AUGUST 04: TJ Dillashaw celebrates his UFC Bantamweight Title Bout win over Cody Garbrandt during UFC 227 at Staples Center on August 4, 2018 in Los Angeles, United States. (Photo by Joe Scarnici/Getty Images)

TJ Dillashaw has some of the best kick-punch combos in MMA, and he’s able to use his movement to create opportunities. Additionally, through his fights with Cody Garbrandt, it was evident that he has what it takes to earn the devastating finish. Defensive responsibility will be key in this match-up, and he won’t be able to afford any missteps.

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‘The Sandman’: One-stop away from UFC contention

Cory Sandhagen has bounced back from his disappointing submission loss to Aljamain Sterling with two straight KO wins. He starched Marlon Moraes and most recently Frankie Edgar to make sure he’s the divisional front runner. The 14-2 fighter is coming into his own with regards to his overall game and has an improved ground game.

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – FEBRUARY 06: Cory Sandhagen lands a flying knee to knock out Frankie Edgar in their bantamweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on February 06, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

Sandhagen’s biggest weapon comes in through his ability to explode, especially from a rather lethargic stance. Dillashaw will have to be wary of Cory Sandhagen’s ability to take off on a dime when making his entry. However, with the speed advantage on TJ Dillashaw’s side, he’ll be supremely confident about his odds.

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Who do you think will emerge as the winner in this fight?

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Darryl Pinto

1875 articles

Darryl Pinto is a senior MMA writer at EssentiallySports. He is currently pursuing his graduate degree in Mass Media (with a specialization in Journalism) out of Xavier’s College and has a year's experience in his current role. Darryl specializes in predictions, reporting, and covering UFC events live.

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