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T.J. Dillashaw to return against Cory Sandhagen in May 8 UFC headliner

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T.J. Dillashaw
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Former UFC bantamweight champ T.J. Dillashaw will return to the octagon after a two-year absence in a pivotal meeting against contender Cory Sandhagen.

Dillashaw and Sandhagen have verbally agreed to headline a May 8 event at a location to be announced, multiple people with knowledge of the pending booking confirmed to MMA Fighting following a report from ESPN.com.

Dillashaw fights for the first time since relinquishing the title after testing positive for erythropoietin (EPO) and receiving a two-year suspension from the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency. The positive test stemmed from a failed bid for the flyweight title then held by Henry Cejudo in January 2019.

Prior to that setback, Dillashaw was on a four-fight winning streak that followed the loss of his bantamweight title to Dominick Cruz in 2016. He recaptured the belt one year later with a knockout of former training partner Cody Garbrandt, and an immediate rematch led to the same result.

Dillashaw indicated he might receive an immediate title shot upon returning from his suspension, but with a bantamweight title rematch between champ Aljamain Sterling and Petr Yan expected for later this year, the title picture shifted.

Sandhagen is one month removed from a highlight-reel knockout of ex-lightweight champ Frankie Edgar, which marked his second straight win after a loss to Sterling gave him the first setback of his professional career. Prior to that, he knocked out one-time title challenger Marlon Moraes with another highlight-reel shot.