UFC Vegas 32 will feature two former training partners perceived to be trending in opposite directions when surging Cory Sandhagen takes on TJ Dillashaw returning from a two-year USADA suspension in the main event. Here we discuss the betting odds, analysis and pick.
- When: Saturday July 24th, 2021 at 4:00pm ET (ESPN plus)
- Where: UFC Apex, Las Vegas Nevada
- Line: Sandhagen -200, Dillashaw +170; Over 3.5 rounds +145, Under 3.5 rounds -175; Fight goes distance (FGD) +225, Fight does not go distance (FDGD) -330; Sandhagen to win by KO/TKO/DQ +110, by sub +800, by decision +450; Dillashaw to win by KO/TKO/DQ +350, by sub +1100, by decision +600 (odds from DraftKings sportsbook).
TJ Dillashaw has not fought in the UFC since being knocked out in 32 seconds by Henry Cejudo in 2019, after which he relinquished the UFC Bantamweight championship due to testing positive for recombinant human erythropoietin (EPO), receiving a two year suspension from USADA.
Dillashaw is 35 years old and will have a 5 inch height and 3 inch reach disadvantage. He averages 5.37 strikes (significant) landed per minute (SLpM) with 41 percent striking accuracy. With 3.03 strikes absorbed per minute (SApM) with 65 percent striking defense, 1.68 takedowns per 15 minutes with a 37 percent takedown accuracy and 86 percent takedown defense, according to UFC stats.
Dillashaw has four wins and one loss in his last five fights including the knockout loss to Cejudo (TKO R1, 2019), two title defenses over Cody Garbrandt (TKO R1, 2018 and TKO R2, 2017) and decisions over John Lineker (UD, 2016) and Raphael Assuncao (UD, 2016).
The Sandman appears to be gaining confidence and momentum, emerging as a serious contender after dominating his last two opponents in highlight reel fashion.
Sandhagen averages 6.85 SLpM with 48 percent striking accuracy, 3.89 SApM with 59 percent striking defense, 1.07 takedowns per 15 minutes with a 50 percent takedown accuracy and 30 percent takedown defense.
Sandhagen has four wins and one loss in his last five fights, including knockouts over Frankie Edgar (KO R1, 2021) and Marlon Moraes (KO R2, 2020). A loss by rear-naked choke to Aljamain Sterling (sub R1, 2020) and decision wins over Raphael Assuncao (UD. 2019) and John Lineker (SD. 2019) round out the big names on his resume.
TJ Dillashaw vs. Cory Sandhagen – The Narrative
The consensus narrative heading into this fight is that Sandhagen has all the momentum, more recent activity and length advantage against an aged, recently inactive Dillashaw who might not be the same without performance enhancing drugs.
Some sharp MMA bettors feel Sandhagen is overvalued due to recency bias and are seeing all the value on TJ Dillashaw based on a perceived wrestling advantage and championship level intensity and cardio, foreseeing T.J. wearing out Sandhagen through control time over the course of five rounds.
TJ Dillashaw fights like a dog, is willing to do anything to win (including cheat), has a championship pedigree and it would be unwise to count him out against Sandhagen. We see Dillashaw’s most likely path to victory to include exploiting Sandhagen’s takedown defense the same way the champ did and grinding out a decision victory or possibly even a late submission.
But Dillashaw hasn’t submitted anyone in the UFC since 2012 and Vegas thinks this fight will not go to decision and be less than 3.5 rounds. Sandhagen’s odds suggest he is the most likely to win this contest inside the distance and we consider his loss to Sterling as somewhat of a fluke, and if Sandhagen were to fight ‘Funkmaster’ again, we would take Sandhagen in the rematch.
The odds may be wider than justified and this match up could be a lot closer than most expect but at the end of the day we are going to make our prediction based on the laws of physics and physiology.
EPO is a hormone produced by the liver and kidneys that stimulates red blood cell production which improves the amount of oxygen that blood can carry to muscles. It was the drug of choice of Tour de France winners like Lance Armstrong and it is not a leap to hypothesize that EPO had a role to play in Dillashaw’s noted cardio and fighting tenacity.
An object in motion tends to stay in motion and an object at rest tends to stay at rest and Sandhagen has been active, is entering his prime and has the reach advantage while Dillashaw has been focusing on his business for the past two years and, if he is honest for this fight, will not have the competitive advantage of performance enhancing drugs as a 35 year old bantamweight.
Sure TJ Dillashaw could choose to turn this into a wrestling match but he has shown a penchant for standing and banging in his most recent contests and we have little doubt that Sandhagen has been working on his takedown defense since his submission to Sterling and in anticipation of this match.
On the feet, we would have to give the advantage to Sandhagen’s output, striking accuracy and length and are picking him in this contest but don’t see a lot of value taking him straight up due to the juice. If he wins, Sandhagen will most likely win inside the distance and by KO/TKO.
Pick: Sandhagen by KO/TKO +110.
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