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

LAS VEGAS — T.J. Dillashaw hadn’t battled in 30 months. He hurt his knee in the preliminary. A cut that he suffered in training re-opened in the 2nd round and was so bad, that previous UFC heavyweight champ Daniel Cormier stated it was making him ill taking a look at it.

In training school, he’d torn the MCL in his best knee and hurt his left shoulder.

His challenger Saturday in the primary occasion of UFC Vegas 32 at Peak, Cory Sandhagen, battled a dazzling battle.

Yet, Dillashaw handled to get rid of all of that and declared a split choice triumph that vaults him right back into the bantamweight title photo. Judge Derek Cleary had it 48-47 for Sandhagen, providing him the last 2 rounds. He was overthrown by judges Sal D’Amato and Junichiro Kamijo, who each had it 48-47 for Dillashaw.

Yahoo Sports had it 48-47 for Dillashaw, the two-time previous bantamweight champ.

“Guess what? Daddy’s home, bitches,” Dillashaw stated in the cage after the intense back-and-forth fight with Sandhagen.

Dillashaw never ever lost the title in the ring, and figures to be the opposition for the winner of the Oct. 30 bantamweight title rematch in between champ Aljamain Sterling and Petr Yan.

He was removed of the belt following a Jan. 19, 2019, loss in a flyweight title battle to Henry Cejudo after he evaluated favorable for Procrit, an anemia medication which contains EPO. He was suspended for 2 years by USADA.

He was expected to return versus Sandhagen in Might, however the bout was held off when Dillashaw was cut. That cut opened after a difficult left hook from Sandhagen in the 2nd, when it appeared Sandhagen was taking control of with his striking.

However as he’s done throughout his profession, Dillashaw handled to discover a method. He’s as hard a fighter as there remains in the UFC and he’s an intense rival.

The battle might have gone really terribly for him if he’d enabled Sandhagen to continue to select him apart at variety. He confessed he got lazy and stated after getting to the corner following the round, he understood what he required to do

“I came out in that second round … and I was worried about my knee,” he stated. “I can’t really tell you what happened until I watch it. It was all kind of a blur. But like I’ve said, I can change who I am from round to round. Those are the things you have to do to be the best in the world.”

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 in their bantamweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at Apex on July 24, 2021 in Las Vegas. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

He’s not the most popular fighter among his peers, but no matter what one thinks of him personally, there is no doubt that he’s an elite fighter.

And he’s going to make every effort to have his next fight be for the belt. But if it doesn’t work, he’s going to fight and not wait because he’s had enough of being away and out of action.

“Daddy’s going to get that belt back easy, guys,” he stated. “Easy money for that belt right now.”

It most likely won’t be simple since beating first-rate fighters isn’t simple, however don’t question for a minute that even at the sophisticated age (for a fighter) of 35 and more than 7 years after he initially declared the crown that he might do it once again.

If he does, he’d sign up with Randy Couture as the only fighter in UFC history to hold a belt in the very same department on 3 different celebrations.

It’s an exceptional achievement for a male whose main UFC profession started in the worst method possible. He was knocked out in less than 2 minutes by John Dodson in the finals of The Ultimate Fighter on Dec. 3, 2011.

It was an ignominious method to open his profession, however he didn’t let it affect him. Less than 3 years later on, he was the champ, and he’s gone 5-2 in title battles because. His loss to Dominick Cruz on Jan. 17, 2016, was a heartbreaker in an agonizingly close battle that might have gone in any case.

Saturday’s battle was likewise close and Sandhagen had every right to feel he’d won. Dillashaw was up 2 rounds to one on all 3 cards after 3 rounds. Cleary provided Sandhagen Beats 4 and 5 and therefore the battle. D’Amato provided Sandhagen the 4th to even it, however provided Dillashaw the 5th and definitive round. Kamijo provided Dillashaw the 4th and Sandhagen the 5th.

Sandhagen’s strikes from variety were triggering no end of issues for Dillashaw, who for the last 3 rounds kept his right-hand man pushed up by his eye to safeguard it.

However Dillashaw utilized kicks to cut the range and limitation Sandhagen’s movement. He had the ability to score on the within and got points by managing Sandhagen along the cage.

He’s not a fancy fighter and whatever he does is tough work: He makes what he’s made it through the sweat of his eyebrow. His success is a direct outcome of many hours of work and a hesitation to ever give up.

“I just work [expletive] hard,” stated Dillashaw, who applauded strength and conditioning coach Sam Calavitta. “I just work my ass off.”

It may be an unusual minute of humbleness from Dillashaw, however it’s not totally real. Yes, he’s an extremely tough employee. However you don’t do what he’s performed in the sport without a considerable amount of skill.

He’s discovered a method to optimize it which’s made him among the very best ever.

More from Yahoo Sports:

Jobber Wiki author Frank Long contributed to this report.