T.J. Dillashaw survives nasty reduce to edge Cory Sandhagen

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LAS VEGAS — T.J. Dillashaw hadn’t fought in 30 months. He injured his knee within the first spherical. A reduce that he suffered in coaching re-opened within the second spherical and was so dangerous, that former UFC heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier mentioned it was making him unwell taking a look at it.

In coaching camp, he’d torn the MCL in his proper knee and injured his left shoulder.

His opponent Saturday in the principle occasion of UFC Vegas 32 at Apex, Cory Sandhagen, fought an excellent struggle.

But, Dillashaw managed to beat all of that and claimed a cut up resolution victory that vaults him proper again into the bantamweight title image. Choose Derek Cleary had it 48-47 for Sandhagen, giving him the ultimate two rounds. He was overruled by judges Sal D’Amato and Junichiro Kamijo, who every had it 48-47 for Dillashaw.

Yahoo Sports activities had it 48-47 for Dillashaw, the two-time former bantamweight champion.

“Guess what? Daddy’s residence, bitches,” Dillashaw mentioned within the cage after the fierce back-and-forth battle with Sandhagen.

Dillashaw by no means misplaced the title within the ring, and figures to be the challenger for the winner of the Oct. 30 bantamweight title rematch between champion Aljamain Sterling and Petr Yan.

He was stripped of the belt following a Jan. 19, 2019, loss in a flyweight title struggle to Henry Cejudo after he examined constructive for Procrit, an anemia medicine that comprises EPO. He was suspended for 2 years by USADA.

He was alleged to return in opposition to Sandhagen in Might, however the bout was postponed when Dillashaw was reduce. That reduce opened after a tough left hook from Sandhagen within the second, when it appeared Sandhagen was taking on along with his placing.

However as he’s achieved all through his profession, Dillashaw managed to discover a manner. He’s as powerful a fighter as there’s within the UFC and he’s a fierce competitor.

The struggle may have gone very badly for him if he’d allowed Sandhagen to proceed to choose him aside at vary. He admitted he received lazy and mentioned after attending to the nook following the spherical, he realized what he wanted to do

“I got here out in that second spherical … and I used to be fearful about my knee,” he mentioned. “I can’t actually inform you what occurred till I watch it. It was all form of a blur. However like I’ve mentioned, I can change who I’m from spherical to spherical. These are the issues it’s a must to do to be the perfect on the planet.”

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - JULY 24: T.J. Dillashaw reacts after his split-decision victory over Corey Sandhagen in their bantamweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on July 24, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

T.J. Dillashaw reacts after his split-decision victory over Corey Sandhagen of their bantamweight struggle in the course of the UFC Combat Night time occasion at Apex on July 24, 2021 in Las Vegas. (Photograph by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

He’s not the most well-liked fighter amongst his friends, however it doesn’t matter what one thinks of him personally, there isn’t a doubt that he’s an elite fighter.

And he’s going to make each effort to have his subsequent struggle be for the belt. But when it doesn’t work, he’s going to struggle and never wait as a result of he’s had sufficient of being away and out of motion.

“Daddy’s going to get that belt again simple, guys,” he mentioned. “Simple cash for that belt proper now.”

It most likely gained’t be simple as a result of beating world-class fighters isn’t simple, however don’t doubt for a second that even on the superior age (for a fighter) of 35 and greater than seven years after he first claimed the crown that he may do it once more.

If he does, he’d be a part of Randy Couture as the one fighter in UFC historical past to carry a belt in the identical division on three separate events.

It’s a outstanding accomplishment for a person whose official UFC profession started within the worst manner attainable. He was knocked out in lower than two minutes by John Dodson within the finals of The Final Fighter on Dec. 3, 2011.

It was an ignominious strategy to open his profession, however he didn’t let it impression him. Lower than three years later, he was the champion, and he’s gone 5-2 in title fights since. His loss to Dominick Cruz on Jan. 17, 2016, was a heartbreaker in an agonizingly shut struggle that would have gone both manner.

Saturday’s struggle was equally shut and Sandhagen had each proper to really feel he’d gained. Dillashaw was up two rounds to 1 on all three playing cards after three rounds. Cleary gave Sandhagen Rounds 4 and 5 and thus the struggle. D’Amato gave Sandhagen the fourth to even it, however gave Dillashaw the fifth and decisive spherical. Kamijo gave Dillashaw the fourth and Sandhagen the fifth.

Sandhagen’s strikes from vary have been inflicting no finish of issues for Dillashaw, who for the final three rounds saved his proper hand pressed up by his eye to guard it.

However Dillashaw used kicks to chop the gap and restrict Sandhagen’s mobility. He was in a position to rating on the within and received factors by controlling Sandhagen alongside the cage.

He’s not a flashy fighter and all the pieces he does is difficult work: He earns what he’s gotten by the sweat of his forehead. His success is a direct results of hours upon hours of labor and an unwillingness to ever give in.

“I simply work [expletive] arduous,” mentioned Dillashaw, who praised energy and conditioning coach Sam Calavitta. “I simply work my ass off.”

It may be a uncommon second of humility from Dillashaw, nevertheless it’s not solely true. Sure, he’s an exceptionally arduous employee. However you don’t do what he’s achieved within the sport with out a boatload of expertise.

He’s discovered a strategy to maximize it and that’s made him probably the greatest ever.

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