TJ Dillashaw made a triumphant return at UFC Vegas 32 as he secured a split decision win over Cory Sandhagen. With this win, he has earned the right to fight for the UFC bantamweight title.
But, this win means way more to TJ Dillashaw than just a win over a top contender in the division. There were a lot of questions about whether Dillashaw would be the same fighter coming off a 2-year suspension. Fans were even questioning his achievements in UFC prior to his failed drug test. To be precise, Dillashaw’s legacy was on the line as he took on one of the toughest fighters in the division in Cory Sandhagen.
But in the end, it was Dillashaw’s superior fight IQ that won him the fight against Sandhagen. Despite the bad knee and the cut on his eye, Dillashaw did enough to win 3 rounds against Sandhagen.
Dillashaw has a fairly simple gameplan going into one of the biggest fights of his career. When asked about the game plan for Sandhagen, Dillashaw paid homage to the great Nate Diaz who once laid out the perfect gameplan for all the fighters. Diaz said: “The game plan is you go in there, hit him with some good s**ts, don’t get hit. And come home with a pocket full of cash.”
The injured knee affected the gameplan of TJ Dillashaw
TJ Dillashaw had to make adjustments during the fight after he injured his knee in round 1. Coming into the fight, Dillashaw claimed that he was going to use his wrestling more against Sandhagen. However, the injured knee did affect Dillashaw’s game plan. Talking about the injury, Dillashaw stated:
“I knew he was tough. I knew coming into the fight he would be rangy, hard to track down. Unfortunately, after that first round I could not lift. I took his back quite a few times and I am really good from that clinch position from the back. But I could not throw my legs in and I could not lift. So I was hanging out using those knees the best I could while he was hand fighting. It was a little unfortunate.”
Nevertheless, it’s a huge win for TJ Dillashaw and he is certainly in the title contention after that performance.