UFC bantamweight contender, Cory Sandhagen has noted his intentions to move closer to a shot at undisputed division gold in his next Octagon outing, and following his stunning knockout win over ‘Magic’ Marlon Moraes in October, has suggested a title-eliminator with the soon returning, T.J. Dillashaw.
Rebounding from his first promotional defeat recently, Elevation Fight Team trainee, Sandhagen returned to the win column in spectacular fashion, via a second-round wheel kick knockout of one-time title challenger, Moraes.
Headlining the UFC Fight Island 5 event on Yas Island, Sandhagen made good on his first main event under the UFC’s banner following a shocking first-round rear-naked choke defeat to upcoming UFC 256 title challenger, Aljamain ‘Funk Master’ Sterling in June at UFC 250.
Sandhagen had been linked with clashes opposite former lightweight champion, Frankie ‘The Answer’ Edgar in his next Octagon walk, following the latter’s successful division bow against Pedro ‘The Young Punisher’ Munhoz earlier this year.
While he remains in prime position to challenge for the bantamweight crown via his shocking stoppage win over then #1 ranked, Moraes, Sandhagen has suggested a title-eliminator with former two-time division gold holder, Dillashaw, who is eligible to return to active competition following a two-year suspension, in January coming.
“I think that I’m maybe one fight away from being that #1 guy,” Sandhagen told MMA Fighting recently. “When you kind of look at the division, (Cody) Garbrandt is hurt [bicep tear] and he’s at 125(-pounds) now so that’s not really a possibility. Then you have Frankie (Edgar), who came off a win against (Pedro) Munhoz, which isn’t like as good a competitor as Marlon (Moraes). Then you have T.J. (Dillashaw) that’s coming back in January, who is known as one of the best bantamweights in history.“
“I definitely think my #1 contender fight should be against T.J. just because it makes the most sense. I think that I have a pretty strong case now, and when T.J. comes back, he’s going to have a pretty strong case. I’d love to fight him and then right after that when the winner of (Petr) Yan and (Aljamain) Sterling are ready to go, fight one of those guys in the spring or sometime.“
Bang Muay Thai ace, Dillashaw last featured at UFC Fight Night Brooklyn in January of 2019, in an unsuccessful attempt to pry the flyweight throne from then-champion, Henry ‘Triple C’ Cejudo, hoping to become a two-weight world champion.
In the weeks following his quickfire loss, Dillashaw had been informed by USADA of an “adverse” finding in his post-fight drug-test, before he relinquished the bantamweight crown after he had been slapped with a two-year, retroactive suspension having returned a test sample which had tested positive for the banned substance, EPO.
While on the sidelines, Cejudo would go on to claim the vacant bantamweight title against Moraes before scoring his sole title defence against common-foe, Dominick Cruz. With Cejudo’s subsequent vacation and shock retirement, Yan scored the vacant crown. Dillashaw has, however, stated that a bantamweight title shot would await him upon his Octagon return next year.