Former two-time UFC bantamweight champion, T.J. Dillashaw has re-entered the UFC’s official bantamweight rankings off the back of his Octagon return last weekend at UFC Vegas 32 — taking the #2 slot occupied by his opponent, Cory Sandhagen.
Angels Camp native, Dillashaw made his first Octagon appearance since January of 2019 last Saturday night at the UFC Apex facility, narrowly eeking out a close split decision (48-47, 48-47, and 47-48) victory over the surging Sandhagen — scoring his first win at the bantamweight limit since an August 2018 rematch knockout win over Cody Garbrandt.
Dillashaw, 35, had been slapped with a two-year retroactive suspension by anti-doping agency, USADA following his flyweight title challenge loss to then-gold holder, Henry Cejudo at UFC Fight Night Brooklyn back in January 2019 — after he returned a positive test result for the banned substance, erythropoietin (EPO).
Headlining the UFC Vegas 32 event, Dillashaw returned triumphantly with a split decision victory over Aurora striker, Sandhagen — utilising his aggression, forward pressure, and wrestling to force the Colorado native to the fence on occasion. Dealing with a laceration to his right eye as well as an apparent injury to his left knee, Dillashaw disclosed post-fight that he had suffered an MCL tear in his right knee prior to the fight. With the victory — Dillashaw returned to the ranks at #2, replacing Sandhagen.
Suffering his first defeat in two outings since scoring an eye-catching pair of knockout victories over both former title challenger, Marlon Moraes and former undisputed lightweight best, Frankie Edgar — Sandhagen has slipped to the #3 rank in the official bantamweight pile.
With his victory, Bang Muay Thai ace, Dillashaw added Sandhagen to a winning record which includes wins over the likes of Cody Garbrandt (x2), John Lineker, Raphael Assuncao, Renan Barao (x2), and Joe Soto.
The victor of last Saturday’s headliner between Sandhagen and Dillashaw was outlined as the next challenger to the bantamweight throne, ahead of the expected championship rematch between Aljamain Sterling and Petr Yan at UFC 267 on October 30. from Yas Island in Abu Dhabi, UAE.
Senior writer for FightBook MMA. An aspiring mixed martial arts reporter based in Ireland. Producer of news articles, interviews, opinion features, and exclusive features such as, ‘The Fallout’, ‘The Breakdown, and, ‘This Week In MMA’.
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