TJ Dillashaw wants to erase doubts about his UFC career with win over Cory Sandhagen

  • Tom Ward
TJ Dillashaw

TJ Dillashaw hopes to ‘erase’ any lingering doubt about the legitimacy of his UFC career with a crushing win over Cory Sandhagen on Saturday night. 

After defending the UFC bantamweight title by first-round knockout against Cody Garbrandt three years ago, Dillashaw came up short in his failed attempt to become a two-weight world champion against Henry Cejudo at UFC Fight Night 143 at the Barclay Center in New York.  

It was later revealed that he had tested positive for the banned substance recombinant human substance erythropoietin (EPO) in an in-competition drugs test dating back to January 2019.

He was subsequently banned for two years after the United States Anti-Doping Agency overruled a 12-month suspension imposed by the New York State Athletic Commission, claiming it was too lenient. 

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Dillashaw (16-4), 35, will be back in action on Saturday to face fellow countryman Sandhagen (14-2) in a scheduled five-round contest at the UFC’s Apex facility in Las Vegas. 

“There’s not going to be a slip in my performance,” he said. “I’m going to go out there and look dominant, so it’s going to be a great one.

“I think it’s going to erase the controversy after Saturday when I come out there, and you see how good I look.”

TJ Dillashaw trains with Duane Ludwig

Dillashaw and Sandhagen have previously trained together extensively under the watchful eye of head coach Duane Ludwig at what was the former home of Elevation Fight Team in north Colorado.  

“I’ve always done very well against guys I’ve trained with,” the 35-year-old said. “I’m a very good guy about game planning. I know where guys’ weaknesses are at, and it’s nice for me to know that.

“But it’s all about when the lights turn on. You can talk about practice all you want, but we ain’t here to talk about practice. We’re here to talk about when everyone is watching.”

TJ Dillashaw trains with Duane Ludwig

A victory could set Dillashaw up for a world title shot against Aljamain Sterling (20-3), who would have to successfully defend his belt against Petr Yan at some point later this year. 

“This is a real title fight, to be honest,” Dillashaw said. “I was not very impressed with Aljamain and Yan in their last fight.

“I think Cory Sandhagen’s the toughest in the weight class right now. This is a true title fight. I’m the champ coming back, and it’s time to prove it.”

“Everything’s already been said, I didn’t hide behind anything, and it is what is. It’s something you’ve just got to – I’m a very mentally tough guy. It’s not going to ever break me.”

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