Dillashaw pulls out gutsy win in return from 2-year suspension
TJ Dillashaw is back.
The former bantamweight champion made his return from a two-year USADA suspension by earning a split decision victory (48-47, 47-48, 48-47) over Cory Sandhagen in the main event of the UFC's Fight Night event Saturday in Las Vegas.
Dillashaw overcame a significant amount of damage to earn his first victory since August 2018.
Following the first round, Dillashaw told his corner he felt his left knee pop defending a leg lock. In the second round, he took a hard right hand that opened up a nasty gash above his right eye. Blood trickled into the eye for the remainder of the fight.
Nonetheless, he powered on, withstood numerous big shots, and responded with multiple takedowns and plenty of Octagon control. Despite being clearly hobbled by the knee, Dillashaw controlled the action for much of the five rounds.
Sandhagen expressed surprise at the result and the will of his opponent.
"I didn't think he'd be able to take a shot the way he was taking a shot. I think a lot of those shots knock people out," he said. "I had him hurt a number of times. I wasn't hurt at all."
Following the victory, Dillashaw called for a title fight against the winner of the Aljamain Sterling-Petr Yan rematch.
"Daddy's getting that belt back. Easy money for that belt right now," he said in his postfight interview.
Dillashaw ran his record to 17-4 in his first fight since suffering a TKO loss to Henry Cejudo in January 2019.
Sandhagen, the UFC's No. 2-ranked bantamweight, drops to 14-3.