This Saturday, former two-time UFC bantamweight champion T.J. Dillashaw takes on MMA Fighting’s third-ranked bantamweight, Cory Sandhagen, in the main event of UFC Vegas 32. It’s Dillashaw’s first fight back following his two-year USADA suspension for testing positive for EPO and the former champion has been vocal in calling for a title shot should he beat Sandhagen. Similarly, coming off of back-to-back KO of the Year candidates, Sandhagen has also called for a title shot with a win on Saturday, but unfortunately for him, current bantamweight champion Aljamain Sterling only agrees with Dillashaw.
Speaking on his Weekly Scraps podcast this week, Sterling discussed this weekend’s main event saying that a win on Saturday would get Dillashaw a title shot but that Sandhagen might still have some work to do.
“I’m very excited to see what this one brings,” Sterling said. “I’m very excited to see what T.J. Dillashaw shows up because, you beat T.J. Dillashaw, does that give you a title shot? I don’t know. But if T.J. beats him, does that give T.J. a title shot? Absolutely. It should absolutely give T.J. a title shot. But in the sense of the other way that I’m looking at it, I don’t know what this win really does for Sandhagen other than getting another marquee name added to his resume.”
Part of Sterling’s response seems to boil down to the fact that he ran through Sandhagen not that long ago. The two fought each other last year at UFC 250, with Sterling submitting Sandhagen in less than 90 seconds. Sandhagen has since rebounded with highlight reel finishes of Marlon Moraes and Frankie Edgar but even adding a third win to his resume still won’t make that rematch much more appealing for the champion, especially since Sterling says that beating Dillashaw may not actually mean all that much, given that he hasn’t fought in two years and, according to Sterling, was cheating long before he got caught.
“T.J.’s been suspended, he’s been out of competition for two years,” Sterling said. “He cheated, he’s been cheating for a very long time, ask his teammates. This is something that has been disclosed to me years ago and of course, you don’t want to be the whistleblower and not have any evidence but the evidence has been his teammates talking about it, his former teammates talking about it, and of course, now being caught, it’s pretty safe to say that where there’s smoke there’s fire.”
Dillashaw tested positive for EPO following his failed flyweight title bid against Henry Cejudo in 2019, which led to him vacating his bantamweight title. Dillashaw has since admitted fault for his failed tests but has maintained that he only took performance-enhancing drugs for the Cejudo fight and not during his bantamweight title reigns, noting that he passed over 30 USADA tests without issue before the Cejudo fight. Like many though, Sterling clearly doesn’t believe Dillashaw, however, given his status in the division, should he beat Sandhagen on Saturday, the champion is willing to give Dillashaw a crack at the title, after he rematches Petr Yan, but Sterling says he doesn’t think that’s going to happen.
“I think it’s gonna be a good stylistic matchup,” Sterling said. “A guy who’s so much taller, rangier, fights with so much calmness and now fighting with a little bit more stank in terms of brutality, trying to really hurt guys in there. I think this is gonna be a very, very fun fight to watch. If I had to put my money on it, I gotta say Sandhagen gets the job done. These guys used to train together and I do believe them formally training together gives him some type of confidence that he understands what he’s dealing with going in there. If T.J.’s truly off the stuff, I like Sandhagen’s chances even better in this one.”
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*obligatory birthday post— Israel Adesanya (@stylebender) July 22, 2021
Another year closer to death.
I don’t celebrate my birthday anymore cuz I get celebrated all the time with my accomplishments and tings. But candid moments like this are priceless, can’t buy this shit!!
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