With 35 years and two and a half without fighting due to a sanction (two years) TJ Dillashaw returned to the UFC. At the time he cheated, he was a bantamweight champion and on his return he accepted what was offered, knowing that it was his “only chance.” The company crossed him against Cory Sandhagen in the main event at UFC Las Vegas 32. His opponent was number two in the ranking and the winner of the lawsuit would go for the title. That place was earned by TJ. It was imposed by split decision (48-47, 48-47 and 47-48) in a result that for some generated controversy, although in the final three acts they were for the former champion, although adjusted.
The fight had two stages. In the first two rounds, Sandhagen was better. In the first Dillashaw made it clear that he had no rust. He tried to be the one to set the pace and arrived with good hands, but the number two in the ranking knew how to catch him and put him in trouble with several submissions. In the second round, the former champion was in serious trouble. Sandhagen hooked him a big right crochet. He opened a major cut, which required a doctor’s review, and prevented his vision. He was in danger, but was able to rally himself and go out for the next round.
The last three rounds were of different dynamics. Dillashaw did not suffer. They were closed acts, but in which the former champion convinced two of the three judges with projections, work in the clinch and good combinations. They weren’t lethal, but they were continuous. TJ was constantly worried about covering up his cut so they wouldn’t stop the fight, that’s why he looked for the clinch route and there he dominated the fight as much as he could. In the final round, Sandhagen put in work, but the pace and precision at the end went to Dillashaw. It was a successful plan that accompanied with a lot of rhythm. He never lowered the intensity of training and that was reflected in the final rounds, which he took for work. He had no rust, nor was the fight long. He earned his chance and now look at Aljamain Sterling.